On March 11, President Joseph R. Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), which established the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. This fund provides $130.2 billion to local governments nationwide for COVID-19 pandemic recovery assistance. The U.S. Treasury Department announced that Alexandria will receive $59.6 million in federal funding as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.
The City has developed a list of potential programs and projects to help guide the use of these funds as part of a future spending plan. Projects to be considered must reflect the collective values and the vision held in the City’s strategic plan and ensure that this one-time funding is spent to improve quality of life in Alexandria, for the city’s immediate recovery needs and as a long-term investment for tomorrow.
How can it be used?
As of now, the federal funding requirements dictate that programs and projects must:
- Respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts to residents and businesses;
- Compensate for revenue reductions due to COVID; or
- Support infrastructure projects related to water, sewer, or broadband
Note: Because the Alexandria City Public Schools will receive a separate allocation of federal funding, school projects will not considered under this City process
What is the timing?
- The U.S. Treasury Department will distribute the funds in two equal allotments, one in 2021 and the second in 2022
- The projects/programs should be “shovel-ready”
- The projects/programs must be completed before 2024
- There is no expectation for the program to continue after 2024
What other factors are the City considering?
- A need clearly exaggerated by COVID-19
- A program/project vetted through prior community processes
- An effort that helps achieve strategic plan goals
How can I get involved?
An essential step in this process is to hear from the community. The City is seeking feedback from residents, business, and community organizations on how to use these funds. Provide feedback by reviewing and prioritizing a list of potential programs and projects that have already been considered through past planning processes or through COVID recovery efforts. You can also submit your own ideas for proposals. Provide feedback by May 13.The City hosted virtual public meetings on Saturday, May 8, at 10 a.m. and Monday, May 10, at 7 p.m.
How will this feedback be used?
City staff will use the feedback to develop a two-part draft spending plan that carefully considers use of these one-time resources, within the designated time frame, as an investment in the community. The first part of the plan will consider spending of funds expected to be received in 2021. A second survey will be conducted in June to gather input on the plan. City Council will consider this spending plan at their legislative meeting on July 6. The second spending plan will be further developed in Fall 2021, in anticipation of the second allotment of funding in 2022.
Project and Program Proposals
Each proposal being considered for use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds has been previously included in a planning project with community involvement or addresses a need that has been exaggerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and meets the usage and spending timeframe requirements of the ARPA legislation.
Business Recovery & Workforce Development: Targeted programs, assistance for businesses and workers
- Increased support services for existing businesses, including consulting for marketing, financial, and legal matters
- Increased support for new businesses, including business counseling support services
- Support for Commercial Business Districts to assist with economic recovery efforts and long-term program development and implementation.
- Re-employment and upskilling services to get people back into the workforce, including English as a Second Language training, digital literacy, and access to supportive services.
- Early childcare workforce initiative to assist parents get back to work.
- Infrastructure and amenities to permanently close the 100 block of King Street to vehicular traffic
- Support hotel sector recovery through tax relief and meeting incentive program
- Accelerate tourism recovery with increased advertising and marketing to capitalize on current pent-up demand
Housing: Rent assistance, program support
- Increased rental assistance to help prevent evictions and navigate services to maintain long-term housing stability.
- Assistance to low-income residents and seniors to improve housing conditions, air quality and safety features in their residence
- Capital and Infrastructure Improvements for affordable housing developments
Health & Social Services: Food security, mental health, employment, equity
- Improved access to City services and assistance programs, including food hubs/distribution, transportation aid, childcare, and healthcare, particularly on the West End and in Arlandria
- Increase of program and service awareness to LGBTQ and BIPOC communities
- Basic income pilot program for cash transfer and financial advisement to low-income families
- Improved mental health services within the emergency management and court systems
- Early childcare facility and City services support areas included as part of the Minnie Howard High School project
Cultural Arts, History, and Tourism: Exhibits, events, grants, arts districts
- Support for Alexandria arts organizations which have been significantly impacted as a result of COVID-19
- Increased African-American history preservation, conservation, and tourism
- Seed Funding for Alexandria Arts District Community Development Authority
- City of Alexandria 275th Anniversary Celebration in 2024, promoting the city as a top Waterfront destination and celebrating the city’s history
- Enhanced holiday events for Alexandria residents and to attract increased tourism
- Stormwater spot improvements and increased maintenance
Technology: Software/hardware upgrades, wireless, broadband initiatives
- Digital Equity initiatives, including identification of infrastructure, device, and digital literacy gaps in the community, public facilities, and programming, as well as WiFi capabilities in public facilities and space
Government Efficiency: Public meetings/engagement, security, data collection and analysis
- Ensure increased cybersecurity capabilities and threat protection of city assets, particularly as related to “work from home” environments
- Expand technology capabilities opportunities for virtual public meetings, engagement, and services
City Facility Improvements: Green energy, building upgrades and expansion
- Solar powered back-up power systems for critical city operating facilities, including shelters and fire stations
- Indoor air quality improvement in City facilities