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ARPA Public Input Summary Memo - Sept 2 2021 Date: September 2, 2021 To: Mayor and City Council From: Rachel Kilburg, Assistant City Manager Re: American Rescue Plan Act State & Local Fiscal Relief Funds: First Tranche Update Background The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) established the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF), which provides significant resources to state and local governments to respond to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible uses of funds fall within four broad categories: responding to negative public health and economic impacts, premium pay for essential workers, replacing lost government revenue, and necessary water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure improvements. In addition to significant funds provided to the State of Iowa, Johnson County and other local municipalities, the U.S. Treasury has allocated $18.3 million to the City of Iowa City. The City received approximately half of these funds in May 2021 and anticipates receiving the remaining balance in May 2022. All funds must be obligated by the end of December 2024 and spent by December 2026. At the May 18, 2021 work session, City Council adopted guiding principles to inform the process of prioritizing ideas for use of funds which are outlined below: • Leverage partnerships and outside funding; avoid duplication with other relief programs • Restore financial stability to support future governmental operations • Retain flexibility to address evolving emergent community needs • Seek opportunities to make lasting change in physical and social infrastructure • Ensure funding decisions help mitigate racial inequities • Pursue actions that contribute toward the City’s climate action • Limit operational investments without identified sustainable funding sources • Demonstrate compliance and transparency through regular public reporting Public Input Summary Since the City’s ARPA funds are delivered in two tranches, the City anticipates a multi-phased public input process and recently conducted an initial phase of public input this summer. City staff presented a plan for this first phase of public input at the June 15, 2021 City Council work session. Following this work session and through the end of August, staff employed the following strategies to collect public input: • Online survey (available in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic) was open from mid- July through the end of August. • E-mails (residents encouraged to submit messages in their preferred language) • Listening Session, Mercer Park – August 11, 2021 • Diversity Market, South District – July 10, 2021 • Farmer’s Market, Chauncey Swan – July 24, 2021 • City Boards, Commissions, and Committees invited to share ideas • Neighborhood Associations invited to share ideas • Translated informational flyer and survey links were shared with the non-profit and social service agencies e-mail list, for dissemination to those they serve September 7, 2021 Page 2 • The City initiated meetings with the following targeted stakeholders: o Catholic Worker House/Excluded Worker’s Coalition o Agency Impact Coalition (coalition of Iowa City based social service agencies) o Open Heartland, members of the Latino population o Community and economic development organizations (Iowa City Area Development Group, Think Iowa City, Iowa City Downtown District, and the Iowa City Area Business Partnership) o Iowa Flood Center • Public input collaboration and data-sharing with Johnson County, including the non-profit roundtable and urban communities’ session • Various informal meetings/conversations with individuals and non-profit organizations Opportunities to provide input were promoted through official City channels, including news releases, social media platforms, and Cable TV programs. An informational flyer available in multiple languages was also disseminated through various methods to further spread awareness. In total, the City received 1,892 responses to the online survey through August 15 (including 682 open-ended comments), over 20 e-mails, and countless ideas and stories shared through meetings and listening sessions. A list is attached to this memo, summarizing the ideas collected through the survey, meetings, e-mails, and other conversations. The raw survey results are also attached. Other documentation such as emails and input forms or notes from events is not attached but are available upon request and reflected in the summarized idea list. While we are pleased with the amount of input received, we also recognize that many voices were likely not heard and that we must continue to seek to understand the needs of residents and make expenditure decisions that will create opportunities to meet the most acute needs in our community. Based on the results of the online survey, respondents ranked addressing public health and economic harms as the top preference for spending the City’s ARPA funds. Considering these categories address a broad range of possibilities, this is also reflective of what staff heard through meetings, conversations, and listening sessions: September 7, 2021 Page 3 The most common suggestions staff heard throughout the survey, listening sessions, and meetings include: • Direct financial assistance to those in need who did not receive direct federal stimulus checks and unemployment benefits • Premium pay for frontline, essential workers • Improved access and affordability of high-speed internet • Investments in long-term affordable housing solutions • Expand and strengthen mental health and behavioral health services • Infrastructure investments, including water and sewer • Assistance to help businesses re-hire and increase minimum wage to $15/hour • Invest further in climate actions and community resiliency • Financial support for small businesses, non-profits, arts-based organizations, entrepreneurs, entertainment venues, and other organizations impacted by COVID-19 • Rent, eviction, and foreclosure assistance • Comprehensive non-profit needs assessment and capital planning/funding • Enhanced public transit Common concerns staff heard throughout the survey, listening sessions, and meetings include: • Ensure aid/assistance is delivered to those most in need • Prioritize low-barrier access for programs serving households, with eligibility guidelines and applications that ensure residents lacking documentation can participate and are not overly burdened by accessing the program • Recognize there are urgent, stabilization needs for households, businesses, and organizations Local COVID-19 Relief Programs In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has dedicated both local and federal relief funds towards expanding or developing financial assistance and relief programs. These allocations were largely intended to provide stability for households, non-profits, and businesses facing emergent financial pressures: City of Iowa City Past/Existing COVID-19 Relief Programs Program Allocation Status Assisted* Emergency Housing Assistance (administered by CommUnity/Shelter House) $616,000 Ongoing 153 Non-profit grants for expanded social services addressing COVID-19 impacts (17 non-profit recipients; delivering food assistance, childcare assistance, homeless services, mental health services, and legal aid) $536,532 Ongoing 8,659 Business Grants (Small Business Retention Grants, Project Better Together BIPOC Business Grants) $448,678 Ongoing 48 Security Deposit Assistance Grants (administered by CommUnity) $175,000 Ongoing 66 Shelter Diversion Grant (emergency hotels to reduce crowding at onset of COVID) $10,800 Completed 10 Local Eviction Prevention Program (additional funds for existing program administered through Shelter House) $125,000 Ongoing n/a September 7, 2021 Page 4 Emergency Essential Needs Assistance (administered by Center for Worker Justice) $62,500 Completed 157 Courthouse Eviction Prevention Program (administered by Shelter House/Iowa Legal Aid) $41,000 Ongoing n/a *Beneficiaries reported when project completed In total, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has allocated over $1.9 million in new local relief programs, including $1 million for housing assistance, $536,532 for expanded social services, and $448,678 for small business support. Thus far, these programs have served 376 households, 8,659 individuals, and 48 total businesses (additional household/individual beneficiaries will be added as funding is depleted/program closes). This relief does not capture other relief funding sources that were administered directly by the State or received directly by local non-profit organizations. In addition to City programs, Johnson County has recently made changes to their General Assistance Program to improve benefits and expand eligibility. Additionally, the County dedicated up to $2 million in federal relief funding toward the program. General Assistance payments are made by the County on behalf of the recipient for needs limited to rent, utilities, provisions, prescription medications, medical supplies, transportation, pet supplies, and funeral expenses. Revisions to Johnson County General Assistance Program (Approved 7/29/21) Guideline Previous Policy New Policy Program type “Short Term” and “One-Time” Assistance Programs Combined into one program Duration of assistance (within 12 mo. period) 3 months for 0-50% FPG^ (“Short Term”) or 1 month for 50-130% FPG (“One-Time”) 3 months for all eligible households (0-200% FPG) Income eligibility 130% FPG for one-time assistance 50% FPG for short-term assistance Up to 200% FPG ($25.7K for a one-person household or $53K for a four-person household) Supplemental emergency assistance Not available May be granted per Director’s discretion Eligible expenses Rent, utilities, provisions, some medical, transportation, and funeral expenses. Maintained existing eligible expenses. Added gas vouchers and pet food as eligible assistance. Expanded expenses eligible for certain health and medical care supplies. Applicant Documentation Application requested immigration status Application no longer requests immigration status; eligibility extended to any County resident who meets program guidelines. ^ FPG = Federal Poverty Guidelines Other notable eligibility changes include eliminating the rent cap and expanding eligibility to include those receiving federal/state benefits (such as FIP, SSI, unemployment, etc.). In addition to the General Assistance Program, Johnson County offers an Interim Assistance Reimbursement Program, which provides ongoing assistance for those who have applied for September 7, 2021 Page 5 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits, until they are approved. Eligibility for this program was also expanded -- from 50% to 100% FPG. Households, non-profits, and businesses may have also benefitted directly from various state or federal pandemic relief programs, but the City has no way of quantifying or identifying those recipients. Anecdotally, staff understand local programs have been more accessible particularly among immigrant and refugee populations than state and federal programs. Finally, Iowa City is fortunate to have a strong network of social service agencies, who have continued to serve clients throughout the pandemic, especially as need and demand increased. The impact of these agencies is expansive and invaluable. Partnerships City staff believe two key partnerships will play an integral role in efficient and effective spending of ARPA funds: • Johnson County: City and County staff have been in regular communication and collaboration to share and streamline public input and identify potential areas of overlapping interest. The County has signaled interest in continuing to collaborate as spending decisions are developed. Careful coordination with the County is needed to ensure relief dollars are stretched as far as possible and have the greatest impact on residents. • Social Service Agencies: The City has had considerable success partnering with local agencies to administer assistance programs both prior to and throughout the pandemic. Multiple agencies have again expressed interest in partnerships to roll out ARPA funds. City staff capacity is unlikely able to support the administration and compliance and reporting management of multiple new programs. For any new programs that the City administers, it should be expected that additional staff will be required for such effort. A 5% administrative set- aside is standard for large federal grants with robust compliance and reporting guidelines. Next Steps Staff is developing recommended priority projects based on an assessment of the public input collected, the U.S. Treasury guidance, and project/program’s relationship to the guiding principles set forth by City Council for the use of these funds. Those recommendations will be presented at your September 7th work session. The recommendations will identify top priorities based in two general areas (1) Emergent community need projects (2) Strategic investment projects The recommendations will include initial estimates for potential funding levels that exceed the City’s $18.3 million allocation. This acknowledges that there will likely by some overlap in City/County priorities and that continued close collaboration will be needed to identify areas where City funding is most needed. Similarly, it acknowledges that the future decisions by the State of Iowa with regards to their $1.2 billion may impact funding needs at a local level. Staff will be seeking guidance from the City Council at the work session. Specifically, whether Council is comfortable with the recommended priority projects and staff beginning to work on execution details for emergent needs, while initiating planning for the strategic investment projects. Attachments • Summarized list of ideas obtained through public input • Copy of the survey • Raw survey results September 7, 2021 Page 6