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City Council Introduces First Round Of American Rescue Plan Funds Totaling $3.35M

Local residents holding up signs before a rally on homelessness in Bloomington.

Over $1 million in ARP funds could be going toward initiatives aimed at addressing homelessness. (Ethan Burks, WFIU/WTIU News)

After returning from its summer recess, the Bloomington City Council wasted no time Wednesday night in getting the process started on how to spend American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.

A proposal is already on the table in the form of Appropriation Ordinance 21-01, which sets aside $3.35 million of the city's $22.27 allotment of ARP funds. 

Mayor John Hamilton said this first round of ARP money can help programs and services right away.

"We tried to find the things that could be done quickly and we’re confident will be advancing the goals that we all share," said Hamilton. "This first chunk can be well invested in the next few months of 2021."

The initial funds focus on homelessness and helping the efforts of the local Housing Insecurity Group coordinated by United Way of Monroe County and the Community Foundation. 

The rest of the funds cover a wide range of areas from local arts to improving city utility services to increasing public access to wireless internet. 

"Transformative is the word for these one-time funds, so I think we’ll be very deliberate in order to do what’s best for this community," said council president Jim Sims.

READ MORE: Hamilton To Ask Council For "Multi-Million" Chunk Of Rescue Plan For Housing

A full breakdown of the $3.35 million is as follows:

  • $1,200,000 grant to support the Housing Insecurity Group, which is currently working on plans to combat homelessness and create more affordable housing.
  • $700,000 toward a City of Bloomington Utilities program to identify and prepare to replace lead-based service lines.
  • $550,000 for maintenance at the Waldron Center. This follows the city’s plan of refurbishing the building into a community arts center.
  • $250,000 grant for the Bloomington Housing Authority to enhance its efforts for creating more affordable housing locally through the Summit Hill Community Development Corporation.
  • $200,000 to support a new landlord risk mitigation fund that will be used to get landlords to participate in programs that lower barriers for prospective tenants.
  • $175,000 to local arts and cultural groups for economic recovery.
  • $150,000 for inclusive job training and employment growth through various programs like Bloomington Remote, ReBoot and Brighten B-Town.
  • $75,000 to expand digital equity investments through the goals of the city’s Digital Equity Strategic Plan, which includes offering public wi-fi at city parks.
  • $50,000 for third-party professionals to evaluate the potential for a new downtown performing arts facility. 

With this only being the first round of ARP funding, the city is expected allocate another $6.4 million for the 2022 budget.

Wednesday night was only the first reading and introduction of Appropriation Ordinance 21-01. A special session has been scheduled for August 3 for further discussion, and possibly final approval. 

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