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Politics

Hamilton Co. stimulus plan now includes even more for affordable housing: $35.5M

Hamilton County Commissioners
Becca Costello
/
WVXU
From left: Hamilton County Commissioners Clerk Leslie Hervey, Commission VP Alicia Reece, Commission President Stephanie Summerow Dumas, Commissioner Denise Driehaus, and County Administrator Jeff Aluotto.

Hamilton County officials plan to add more than $5 million to their affordable housing plan using federal stimulus. Commissioners now plan to spend a total $35.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to produce new units, fix up existing units, and establish a home repair program.

Some of the money will be used to build housing for seniors, people with disabilities, and people returning from incarceration.

"Returning citizens or [the] reentry population — to incorporate them into the housing element is going to be a game changer for a lot of people that are in that situation," said Commission President Stephanie Summerow Dumas.

The project is part of the county's goal to build cost-effective housing as an example for other developers.

The county will get a total $158 million from the American Rescue Plan; of that, about $64 million is left to allocate. A consulting firm spent the last few months meeting with stakeholders and developing a list of recommendations, which commissioners are now adjusting.

The stimulus spending plan includes money for homelessness prevention, mental health, public health infrastructure, and workforce development.

Within workforce development, $7.5 million is focused on preparing young people for in-demand jobs like in nursing, IT, construction, transportation, and hospitality.

Another recent change to the plan is to set aside $1.8 million (from within the $7.5 million) to increase the pipeline of childcare professionals.

"I think we heard pretty compelling testimony at our last meeting about how you can do workforce development programs, but if there isn't childcare available for those individuals, they can't get to work," said Commissioner Denise Driehaus. "And so it's kind of an underpinning discipline that supports all the other workforce work that we're doing and investing in."

The updated plan also includes a new $1.5 million for teen suicide prevention. Most of these will be developed as individual programs through grants or partnerships with local organizations; contracts will be submitted for board approval individually.

Commissioners could vote on the plan as soon as next Thursday.

Here is the revised ARPA spending plan:

Public health infrastructure: $6 million

  • $3 million to improve critical preparedness infrastructure
  • $1.5 million to continue COVID-19 testing and vaccination support
  • $1.5 million to support health care workforce through expansion of local nursing programs

Mental and behavioral health: $8 million

  • $5 million to expand mobile crisis team
  • $1.5 million to support direct and/or expanded services of organizations that focus on youth trauma and suicide prevention
  • $1.5 million to enhance youth resiliency to address the impacts of social isolation

Affordable housing production and preservation: $35.5 million

  • $17.5 million to implement a grant program to produce new affordable housing units
  • $8 million to develop a sustainable affordable housing project for seniors, disabled, and returning citizens
  • $8 million to support rehabilitation of existing affordable housing
  • $2 million to establish a home repair program

Homelessness prevention: $5 million

  • $3 million to expand shelter diversion program
  • $2 million to invest in homelessness prevention innovation

Workforce development and youth employment: $9.5 million

  • $7.5 million to support workforce programs aligned with target industries with focus on reducing barriers ($1.8 million dedicated to increasing the pipeline of childcare teachers)
  • $1 million for marketing and awareness of in-demand careers
  • $1 million for enhancing collaboration and service delivery of workforce partners

Previous ARP money has been spent on a variety of areas:

  • $2.9 million for small business grants (does not include other stimulus-funded programs for small businesses)
  • $6.3 million for nonprofit assistance
  • $32 million for revenue replacement
  • Vaccine incentives
  • Premium pay for some county employees
  • Mortgage and utility assistance