Council readies proposal for $12.1 million of American Rescue Plan spending
Sat., Feb. 26, 2022
The Spokane City Council is poised to release a second round of American Rescue Plan funds into the community.
The $12.1 million plan outlined by council members during a Thursday study session includes money for a variety of social services, including funding for a new homeless shelter, youth behavioral health services in Northeast Spokane and mobile medical clinics.
If approved, the plan would also aim to boost housing development. It includes money to reimburse the permit fees of developers who build affordable housing and replenish the Projects of Citywide Significance fund, a tool that has been used to get projects like a downtown apartment complex across the finish line.
The spending would also support downtown cultural events impacted by the pandemic.
The city received about $81 million from the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress last year. It’s already released $13.7 million for affordable housing, local artists and child care providers.
“These are all worthy and worthy of consideration,” said Councilwoman Lori Kinnear.
The $3.5 million in capital and operational costs for homeless services would bolster the $3.7 million already set aside by the City Council in the 2022 budget at the request of Mayor Nadine Woodward.
Woodward’s administration continues to plan for a new low-barrier shelter , meaning it will not impose requirements like sobriety or adherence to a specific faith on its guests.
With an informal consensus on the second chunk of funds apparent on Thursday, the council is slated for a final vote on March 7.
Once formally approved by the council, the city will issue requests for proposals to determine exactly what organizations receive funding.
This was the second time in recent weeks the council has discussed the second round of funding, and it was less contentious when the matter was brought up in January.
Much of the council’s debate over the American Rescue Plan funding has not centered on who receives it, but on the decision-making process.
There’s only one City Council district without a representative on the three-member group responsible for sifting and sorting through rescue plan funding proposals.
Northeast Spokane’s two representatives voiced frustration last month about their perceived lack of inclusion, while their colleagues counter that they’re making decisions with the whole city in mind, not a single district.
The entire council gets to participate in the final vote on what is funded.
Councilman Michael Cathcart aired concerns this week that what makes it to the City Council’s table doesn’t reflect his priorities – and thus, northeast Spokane may not receive its due.
The $81 million, which comes with relatively few strings attached, is unprecedented but not limitless. Combined, the first two portions of American Rescue Plan funding will add up to $25.8 million.
Here’s a breakdown of what the council will take up on March 7:
• $1.2 million for mobile medical clinics
• $1.5 million to reimburse permit fees for affordable housing
• $900,000 for downtown cultural events, specifically their marketing and security costs
• $3.5 million for homeless services
• $3 million for youth intervention and behavioral health services
• $2 million for Projects of Citywide Significance
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