Cleveland City Hall, Erik Drost/FlickrCC
Jackson announced how he wants to spend Cleveland's $255 million
Members of Mayor Frank Jackson's administration in a press conference yesterday morning laid out the broad strokes of legislation City Hall will introduce to Cleveland City Council with its plan to allocate and spend the first half of the city's $511 million in American Rescue Plan funds.
"The pandemic changed Cleveland," said Sharon Dumas, the city's director of finance. "The economic and social progress we were making as a community was halted."
Dumas said the Jackson administration's plan hews to responses received from residents — more than 2,000 of them — solicited online and in mailers sent to every city household.
"More than anything else, residents indicated using our funds to improve public safety," she said. "It was their top priority, but several other key themes were apparent."
Among them were a desire to use funds to address job loss, for economic investment in neighborhood businesses, for the develepment and maintence of affordable housing, for expanded investment in city services, and for broadband infrastructure to close the digital divide.
Of the first $255 million, the plan calls for $108 million to go toward revenue loss recovery, recouping a portion of taxes and other revenue the city lost out on during the pandemic as life fundamentally changed.
Of the rest, Jackson wants to spend $75 million on economic development, $26 million on public safety (which will mainly include new equipment and technology), $15 million on demolitions, $20 million on broadband expansion and $5 million to support the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
Economic development funds will be specifically targeted toward minority and women-owned businesses, while funds targeted toward affordable housing would be used to build and maintain new housing while also providing home repair grants, lending for minorities, and partnerships to spur civic and private investment in distressed neighborhoods.
Aimed at both addressing long-standing systemic issues and the disproportionate economic impact of the pandemic on minority populations, the funds represent a chance to bolster neighborhoods that have been left behind and to, as the administration hopes, create lasting change.
The incoming mayor will be left to manage the administration of the programs funded by the first half of the stimulus grants and allocate the second half of the funds, which will hit the city's bank account next June. At $511 million, Cleveland will receive the eighth-highest total in ARPA funds of all American cities.
The entire press conference can be viewed below.