(WHTM) — Harrisburg’s mayor has released her plan for more than $40 million in American Rescue Plan Act money. Most of the funds will go to help people who live in the city with a lower income.
“We feel every dollar requested is necessary for the city,” Mayor Wanda Williams said. “At the center of this request is the responsibility we feel to help the most vulnerable in the city.”
Communities across the counties have received millions of dollars from the federal government to help bounce back from the pandemic and Harrisburg was allotted $47 million. Back in February, the city held town hall meetings to find out how people wanted to spend the money.
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After getting the feedback, Williams came up with a plan, which includes using a little over $42 million of the ARPA money. Her full request, as outlined by the press release, can be viewed below. There is $8.8 million for lost revenue, plus:
Helping Lower-Income Residents ($14.5 million)
- Affordable Housing Program to further efforts to build affordable units in the city. This money can be used as matching funds or direct assistance to projects that meet Department of Building and Housing (DBHD} standards and approvals. ***Criteria developed by DBHD*** $8 million
- $10,000 home repairs for homeowner-occupied units with residents 250% the 2022 HHS poverty rate or below. Payments would be directly paid to vendors on pre-approved work after the work completed is confirmed. ***Criteria developed by DBHD*** $5 million
- Payment of delinquent trash utility bills for residents 250% the 2022 HHS poverty rate or below from months between March 2020 and March 2022. $1 million
- Grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses affected by the pandemic. ***Criteria and application process for this would be developed by DBHD*** $500,000
Beautification, Parks, and Recreation ($10 million)
- A Water Park, with a spray area, lazy river, slides, ADA-zero entry points, concession, and community space designed for families, located in South Harrisburg. $8 million
- ADA-accessible playground equipment for children with special needs. This will allow all children in the City to have access to playgrounds. $1.5 million
- Tree removal and pruning for trees that are marked for removal or pruning on private property. Parks and Recreation Works will work with seniors and homeowners at 250% of the 2022 HHS poverty rate or below to target trees that pose danger to the public. $500,000
Public Safety ($9.16 million)
- Public Safety Building HVAC System Replacement – Given the age and critical disrepair of the current HVAC system, and the antiquated layout and design as it relates to combating airborne illness. $5.5 million.
- Bonuses of $5,000 for Police Officers and Firefighters with the city as of 1/1/2022. $1.26 million.
- Upgraded radio system for the Fire Bureau – With the city responding to calls outside of the city and the current aging system not fully functional in the county, this will allow us to better respond to events that happen throughout the community. $900,000.
- Demolition of dilapidated and abandoned houses – The city has demolished two properties this year, with bids out for three additional properties and six more ready for demolition this year using current funding of $139,000 from the general fund and $51,000 from Community Development Block Grants. By putting this additional money into this program, we can cut the backlog of properties currently on the list ready for demolition (42 houses) and look towards expanding the program. $1.5 million.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Biden Administration and Congress for this funding,” Mayor Williams said. “This type of money not only will help give the people of Harrisburg new lives, but in some cases, save lives.”
Just under $5 million in funds is left for the balance of future programs, which must be appropriated for use by Dec. 31, 2024.
The plan still needs to be approved by City Council. Mayor Williams’ letter to the council is the second phase of a three-step process. The first phase took place in February when the city government held town hall meetings to discuss the wants and needs of residents.
The next steps include the drafting of legislation on how to use the ARPA funding. Then, the city department heads will be available to speak and answer questions from council members as to how the requested funds will impact their divisions.