Alameda, CA

Alameda City Council Directs Spending of $28.68M from the American Rescue Plan Act

Karin K Jensen

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On September 7th, 2021, Alameda City Council provided direction to staff regarding allocating $28.68 million in funding provided by the Federal Government through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 to assist with recovery from the economic and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jennifer Tell, Budget Manager in the Finance Department of the City of Alameda, explained that half the funding was received in June 2021. The City expects to receive the second half in 2022.

Staff first sought direction from the City Council on using ARPA funds at the budget workshop of May 20th. At that meeting, Council directed staff to focus on:

  1. Offsetting revenue loss
  2. Addressing housing, homelessness, and behavioral health
  3. Investing in broadband infrastructure
  4. Providing household and local small business assistance

At the July 20th City Council meeting, Council made a motion to refine the spending plan to focus on housing and including additional funding for Wi-Fi hotspots to help low-income families bridge the digital divide.

The refined City department spending plan included:

1. For the Community Development Department:

  • Setup and operation of a Transitional Housing Program at a cost of $2 million in initial expenses and $600,000 in ongoing annual expenses
  • Setup and operation of Permanent Supportive Housing through the acquisition of Marina Village Inn or a facility built from the ground-up on the Bottle Parcel at 2530 5th Street at an initial cost of $15 million with ongoing annual expenses of $1.5 million
  • Supplementing the Feed Alameda Program for a one-time cost of $23,625. Feed Alameda pays restaurants, who have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, to make hot and healthy meals for Alameda's unsheltered residents

2. For the Library, $50,000 in initial expenses and $3600 in ongoing annual expenses for a wireless hotspot lending program.

Further, staff met with the Alameda Housing Authority to identify its prioritized list of projects which could be built within the next 9 to 18 months. These projects include:

  1. Eviction Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Fund
  2. Jumpstarting construction on 90 units of permanent supportive housing
  3. Purchasing lease-to-own multifamily/motel suites restricted to low-income seniors
  4. Expediting affordable housing development for 30 units

The estimated cost for the Housing Authority projects would be $10-20+ million.

Together these spending plans well exceed the City’s first-year allocation of $14.34 million. Consequently, staff sought direction from the City Council on further refining their spending plan for the first year of funding.

Staff provided four options for moving forward:

  1. Support the Transitional Housing Program, Permanent Supportive Housing Program, and Wi-Fi projects
  2. Support requests from the Alameda Housing Authority
  3. Initiate work on one or two of these projects now and report on progress and available funds in the future
  4. Consider funding assistance to small businesses or not-for-profits
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City of Alameda

Council Members Daysog, Herrera-Spencer, and Knox-White, Vice Mayor Vella, and Mayor Ashcraft discussed and debated the options. No members of the public commented. The Commission on Disability Issues submitted a letter supporting funding for mental health services.

The meeting concluded with the Council choosing Option One with some additional focus on looking for ways to reduce the cost of developing the Bottle Parcel and developing Keep Alameda Housed and Community Land Trust programs like those in Oakland.

The Keep Oakland Housed program is committed to preventing residents from losing housing by providing legal representation, emergency financial assistance, and supportive services. The Oakland Community Land Trust works to expand and preserve housing and economic development opportunities for low-income residents and to steward them in trust to ensure they remain affordable.

Staff will now revise the spending plan based on this further direction and return with requests for budget appropriations. Also, there will be a later discussion on how to use the second half of the federal funding.

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Proud Alamedan writing about our arts, business, politics, and events. I also write about local Asian American history. Follow me on Instagram: @karinkjensen

Alameda, CA
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