April 21, 2022
April 21, 2022
During the COVID pandemic, the federal government took unprecedented action to address Americans’ suffering from both the health and economic consequences. Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and President Biden signed it into law in March of 2021.
Congress and the Biden administration recognized that the public health crisis and associated economic downturn “impacted” or “disproportionately impacted” low-income communities and communities of color, making a long list of services for these communities presumed eligible expenditures. In essence, underlying health conditions associated with chronic poverty and racism made these communities more susceptible to the most severe outcomes of COVID. Low-income workers were also more likely to be laid off from work that could not be done from home.
State and local governments can use ARPA funds to promote an equitable economic recovery and break down barriers to good health for all residents, no matter their race, income or gender. ARPA allocated $350 billion in largely flexible funding to state and local governments to be spent on any of the following basic health equity purposes:
Tracking your ARPA funds
The majority (63%) of ARPA funds went to state governments across the country. A little more than one-third of ARPA dollars were evenly distributed among cities and counties. Half of these funds went out in May of 2021, and the remainder will be disseminated roughly one year later. All funds must be obligated by the end of December 2024 and spent by December 31, 2026.
For small communities with populations generally less than 50,000, the state will distribute funds according to a formula. You can learn more here.
Impacted Households are moderate-income households with incomes at or below 300% of the federal poverty line, at or below 65% of the Area Median Income, and / or are recipients of certain public benefits moderate-income families are typically eligible for, such as child-care subsidies and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. In 2022, 300% of the federal poverty line is approximately $69,000 for a family of three.
Disproportionately Impacted communities and households are:
Presumed eligible services for both “impacted” and “disproportionately impacted” beneficiaries include:
Additional services presumed eligible for “disproportionately impacted” communities and residents in areas of concentrated poverty include tackling neighborhood blight with resources for remediating lead hazards, improving water and sewer infrastructure, providing housing assistance, increasing greenspace and outdoor recreation opportunities, promoting safe streets for pedestrians, access to healthy foods, and rehabilitating vacant and blighted property. Funds directed at disproportionately impacted communities can also be used to tackle barriers to quality education in poor neighborhoods starting with child care and early learning opportunities. Additional health-related items presumed eligible include using ARPA resources for community health workers, medical equipment and facilities, and home visits for infants.
You can find a host of resources and recommendations for how the state could use its ARPA allocations here.
Here you can find a menu of options for how your local community can spend its ARPA allocation as well as a health equity assessment tool to help guide the community decision-making process.
*The State of Ohio has not yet obligated its complete allocation.
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