The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was passed by Congress and signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021. These funds are intended to help states and localities fight the COVID-19 pandemic, maintain vital public services, and build a strong, resilient, and equitable recovery from the pandemic. After listening to the community through an extensive 6-month public engagement process, the Harrisonburg City Council adopted on October 11, 2022, five investment priority areas for the City of Harrisonburg's ARPA funding. City Council and City staff are now in the process of considering projects that would fit into these five priority areas.
Harrisonburg City Council's ARPA investment priority areas:
- Invest in Community Mental Health Improvements - The pandemic presented additional mental health challenges to our community and made evident a crucial growing need for support. We seek to invest in community mental health improvements, especially for youth and the homeless.
- Increase Affordable and Accessible Childcare - The pandemic made evident how crucial having affordable and accessible childcare is to the functioning of our community and the social well-being of our children. We seek to increase support for workers and working families related to childcare.
- Expand Accessible, Affordable Housing - Many struggled with housing insecurity during the pandemic. We seek to expand accessible, affordable housing.
- Improve Neighborhoods - The pandemic highlighted how important neighborhoods are to daily well-being, and a sense of belonging. We seek to improve the beautification of neighborhoods in ways that promote safety and connection and yield additional environmental benefits.
- Enhance Community Space - The pandemic highlighted just how vital community spaces are for connections and wellbeing. We seek to enhance more equitable distribution of accessible parks and recreation services and amenities across the city.
The goals of the Harrisonburg ARPA program are to:
- Support families and businesses struggling with the public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Maintain vital public services, even amid declines in revenue resulting from the crisis
- Build a strong, resilient, and equitable recovery by making investments that support long-term growth and opportunity
These funds represent a once-in-a-generation investment in our community, and we appreciate the community members who have provided their input to help us understand the impacts, needs, and ideas for restoring and transforming our community. Learn more about community input here:
ARPA Comprehensive Data Report [3.9MB]
ARPA Executive Summary - English [1.8MB]
ARPA Executive Summary - Español [1.8MB]
What are the parameters that control spending these funds?
The U.S. Department of Treasury regulates and enforces the use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF). Treasury’s Final Rule describes eligible and ineligible uses of funds as well as other program provisions. The Final Rule went into effect on April 1, 2022. Local governments additionally must comply with Treasury’s Compliance and Reporting Guidance and meet compliance and reporting responsibilities defined in the Final Rule, which includes submitting mandatory periodic reports to Treasury.
An overview of the Final Rule is provided in this brief (ARPA-SLFRF Final Rule Brief [424KB] ) developed by the City of Harrisonburg City Manager’s Office and Finance Department.
The full text of the Final Rule is available on the U.S. Treasury’s ARPA Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds: https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/coronavirus/assistance-for-state-local-and-tribal-governments/state-and-local-fiscal-recovery-funds
The Final Rule presumes certain services are eligible for the City of Harrisonburg to fund through ARPA if these are provided in a geographic area federally-designated as a Qualified Census Tract or in Census Tracts with median income below $40,626. These maps show the Census Tracts in the City of Harrisonburg that meet these eligibility standards per the Final Rule:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Q: Has the City already spent some of these ARPA funds?
A: The Harrisonburg City Council has obligated funding from ARPA to support three projects as of August 2022. Conversations are under way on how to utilize the remaining funds. Those approved projects are:
- Construction of a fifth Harrisonburg fire station, which will reduce response times across the city - especially in the Park View area of the city and in the area around Station 4 on Rock Street. No funds have been spent at this time. View HFD Chief Matthew Tobia's presentation to City Council on the need for a fifth fire station.
- Purchase of a property to house a shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness in Harrisonburg, which will establish a permanent low-barrier shelter in the city for the first time. Cost: $700,000 Learn more about the shelter project.
- Supporting retention payments to City staff members to ensure essential City services continue unchanged and to make the City of Harrisonburg more competitive in job recruitment of vital positions. Cost: $2 million. View Interim City Manager Ande Banks' presentation to City Council on the one-time retention payments.
Q: Is there a chance the City could receive more than $23.8 million in ARPA funding?
A: The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) included $1.9 trillion to aid public health and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Harrisonburg directly will receive $23.8 million. Billions of dollars of other ARPA funds will flow through the Commonwealth of Virginia to communities, businesses and households. The City has hired an ARPA Coordinator who will work to identify additional dollars that could benefit the Harrisonburg community, and to coordinate effort to apply for funding for special projects brought up during the ARPA engagement process. That's why your feedback is so important, regardless of what projects have already been selected.
The Commonwealth Institute has more information on how funding from the American Rescue Plan Act has been categorized in Virginia. See the image below or visit https://thecommonwealthinstitute.org/the-half-sheet/use-of-arpa-funds-a-step-forward-more-to-be-done-to-build-a-just-future/