initial ARPA allocations for county and community | Press Releases | County Administrator’s Office

Sainte Rose, CaliforniaDecember 15, 2021 The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors this week began the approval process for the allocation of $96 million in US federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), basing their decisions on community recommendations resulting from engagement with ARPA’s Equity Task Force, community town halls and focus groups. Using public health data and indices like the Healthy Places Index and the Human Development Index, and centering the experiences of community members disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the county deepened its understanding of the historic inequalities and will focus on investment strategies to remedy to achieve a more equitable recovery.

ARPA funding was approved for ongoing COVID response and surveillance, establishment of a new public health lab/morgue, essential worker compensation for county employees, and county investments to improve cultural responsiveness. In addition, funds were allocated for a rapid economic relief program, housing and homelessness initiatives, rural broadband development, and community investment awards.

The first allocations approved on Tuesday included $8 million for the construction of a new public health laboratory and mortuary to replace the current facility. Supervisors also approved approximately $8 million in essential worker compensation for current county employees who worked during the pandemic and three targeted investments specifically designed to improve the county’s ability to adapt to culture. These included investments in improving geographic mapping information to make it easier for staff to understand demographics across the county ($450,000); the second is an investment in a consultant to develop a community engagement strategy to help guide the department’s efforts with traditionally underserved communities and communities of color ($400,000). Finally, a language access proposal ($310,000) will engage a consultant to assess existing language access arrangements, assess language needs, and recommend and implement a county-wide language access policy. .

A second round of allocations was approved to develop and launch a $9 million rapid economic assistance program to address the impacts of the pandemic on low-income residents, $4 million to address homelessness and $3 million to create a broadband governance organization and set up – set aside money when funds are needed to match state and federal grants that are expected in the near future for broadband development county-wide. Specific details of the rapid economic assistance program will be presented to the oversight board in early 2022. In making its award decisions on Tuesday, the oversight board was briefed by town halls and task force recommendations ARPA Equity Committee, which was appointed in September and has been meeting since October.

“With these investments from ARPA, we have the opportunity in Sonoma County to establish generational changes to improve the lives of those most affected by the pandemic,” said Lynda Hopkins, chair of the board of oversight. “We appreciate the diligent and thorough work of ARPA’s Equity Task Force that resulted in the recommendations that our Board of Directors fully endorsed.”

The funds come from the total of $96 million allocated to the county by passage of the American Rescue Plan Act in March. The board also approved $28.7 million to support ongoing COVID-19 response and surveillance efforts as well as ARPA’s implementation plan.

According to the ARPA, which was signed into law in March, the funding goals are to: support urgent COVID-19 response efforts; replace lost revenue for eligible local governments to support vital public services and help retain jobs; support the immediate economic stabilization of households and businesses; and address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the uneven impact of the pandemic. The federal government has allocated $96 million directly to Sonoma County and funds must be committed by December 31, 2024 and fully expended by December 31, 2026.

Community investment buckets were identified through community engagement efforts, including virtual town halls, community surveys, and feedback from ARPA’s Equity Task Force. Based on feedback and insights from these sources, the major community investment award categories are as follows. The level of funding was also based on the level of need expressed through the community engagement process:

  • Negative economic impacts on individuals and households ($20.5 million)
  • Disparities in Public Health Outcomes ($13.6 million)

The Board has agreed that allocations of funds may be reallocated based on qualified proposals received in each category. These categories included specific needs such as mental health services, immediate direct household support, childcare, broadband, training and development, and a universal basic income pilot.

The above funding allocations will be awarded to a mix of community organizations and county departments based on a solicitation process. The ARPA team will be holding community workshops starting in January to understand and ask questions about the funding requirements to apply for the Community Investment Scholarships. The workshops will take place on Zoom and the recordings will be available on the ARPA website.

The timing, evaluation, selection and allocation process for ARPA community investment funds are as follows:

  • January 2022 – Community workshops on the application process and opportunities to create inter-agency partnerships for joint funding applications.
  • January/February 2022 – ARPA solicitation with a proposed delay of six to eight weeks after publication.
  • March/April 2022 – The review committee will review applications and make recommendations for funding based on established criteria.
  • May/June 2022 – Recommend funding agreements to the board for approval and provide technical assistance to proponents on performance measures and federal funding requirements.
  • July 2022 – June 2024 – Funds disbursed through the community and grantees submit quarterly performance reports and participate in results-based accountability conversations with county staff.

For more information and to learn more about community workshops, visit ARPA’s webpage at https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CAO/ARPA/. You can also view the December 14, 2021 Board Meeting at https://sonoma-county.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.

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James V. Hayes