Creative Ways to Use ARPA Funds
The announcement of the 2021 $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was accompanied by a lack of clarity on how the funds could be used and the restrictions surrounding the allocation and spending of these dollars. The last several weeks have provided much-needed guidance on the permitted uses of this funding which is designed to stimulate recovery and assist with economic stabilization.
The unprecedented infusion of funds offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for various sectors of the economy to challenge the per-usual way of doing business and to become catalytic change agents and leaders.
This is not per-usual funding, so why treat it as such? This means investing in transformational change that will have lasting effects decades down the road. Decision-makers need to be deliberate, inclusive, and intentional without being duplicative. We can do this by inviting a variety of partners to the table to brainstorm and identify areas that are often overlooked or pushed to the back burner in “normal” times. We are challenged to reconsider how we define “normal” times and our priorities.
Below are several ways ARPA dollars could make a lasting impact in our communities:
Develop an affordable housing program with equity and dignity at the core of the decision-making process
Implement mobile integrated health access for all age groups
Focus workforce development on trades that can create living-wage and sustainable jobs
Address trash, litter, and safety concerns by supporting an ambassador program
Creation or expansion of an accessible and equitable transportation system
Explore a guaranteed income program
Institute support for intergenerational care
Establish revolving loan funds for small-business assistance and homeowner/tenant improvements
Improve broadband access and accessibility to devices
Start a vertical indoor farm to address healthy food access, agri-business development, and education
Expand access to and affordability of child care for families
Create residential and commercial incentives to encourage alternative energy uses and healthy spaces to live and work
Green space development as people-centered places for recreational and emotional respite
Creative sector development with opportunities for cultural and ethnic integration into educational systems and business and neighborhood districts