American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
News: County staff are working on hiring new staff to help implement the approved ARPA projects. We will keep you posted on this and other updates with the new ARPA newsletter.

Please visit or share the Boulder County Careers website to learn more about these opportunities.

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

What is the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) is the latest in a series of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related relief and economic stimulus legislation. ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds help build economic capabilities for state, local, territorial, and tribal government agencies to meet pandemic response needs, address the negative economic impacts, and build a strong and equitable recovery from this public health crisis. With this federal aid, jurisdictions have been able to strengthen and support vital public services put at risk by or needed because of the pandemic.

How Do ARPA Funds Impact Boulder County?

On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law. As part of ARPA, the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) was established to address certain impacts from the pandemic. Boulder County was allocated $63,359,749.

States, territories, counties, and cities with populations of 250,000 or more are required to publicly post and submit annual Recovery Plan Performance Report to the Treasury Department by July 31st of each year. The plan focuses on pandemic efforts to date and how Boulder County’s approach to using ARPA funds will support a strong and equitable recovery, respond to the public health emergency and negative economic impacts, and address racial, health, and economic disparities.

Community Engagement and Planning

The Boulder County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) partnered with the Community Foundation of Boulder County, consultant Rebuild by Design, and local community partners on community engagement to ensure ARPA funding investments achieve the highest level of positive and equitable impact for the community.

The first phase of the community engagement process entailed six weeks of collecting feedback from residents, businesses, workers, and students in the county. From more than 1500 completed surveys and 41 events, the engagement process revealed that the greatest challenges facing community members are:

1) Negative Economic Impacts
2) Housing Affordability
3) Cost of Living
4) Mental Health
5) Childcare

These results were consistent across gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, employment status, and disability status.

The second phase consisted of a four-month Working Group process to delve more deeply into three priority areas and ultimately make recommendations for specific projects to address the needs in these areas: Economic Challenges, Housing Affordability, and Mental Health and Social Resilience. Read below for more.

The partner agencies supporting these efforts alongside Boulder County are:

The process for collecting feedback in Phase 1 entailed six weeks of in-person and online outreach (September 1st – October 15th), in partnership with community members and leaders, seeking ideas for building a durable and equitable recovery. County staff and community partners organized and/or attended over 41 events throughout the county to listen to residents’, businesses’, workers’, and students’ concerns and gathered more than 1500 surveys in English, Spanish, and Nepali, “Boulder County Wants to Hear from You!”

When asked “What’s one thing Boulder County can do to improve the lives of you, your loved ones, or your business?” an overwhelming number of respondents suggested increased and improved affordable housing options. The other top suggestions include economic support to offset the impacts of the pandemic, improved mental health services including initiatives to combat social isolation from the digital divide, increasing affordable childcare options, and greater support for the arts and artists.

Feedback also revealed skepticism and doubts from the community that their opinions will be heard. We also heard that while the County has made resources available to those who have struggled throughout the pandemic, many individuals and businesses are unaware of the programs they can access or do not know how to navigate the current systems.

Read the English version of the report, find the Spanish version of the report on this link, or watch the ARPA Steering Committee’s November 10th presentation to BOCC for more insights from the engagement process, lessons learned, and recommendations for Phase 2.

The BOCC also hosted an ARPA-focused Town Hall that took place on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Watch the Town Hall video and learn more about the community engagement process and Q&A from Boulder County residents! In addition to the survey and other opportunities for community engagement, existing data and prior feedback from the community were collected and synthesized

The BOCC and ARPA Steering Committee appointed three ARPA Working Groups in December 2021, comprised of community members that understand the diverse interests of Boulder County and can speak first-hand to the needs of those most impacted by COVID-19, moving into the next phase of community engagement and planning. Members were appointed in the three working group focus areas of: Economic Challenges, Housing Affordability, and Mental Health and Social Resilience. Working Groups met from February to May 2022, drawing from educational and informative workshops, subject matter experts, the needs and ideas of community members, Treasury guidelines for ARPA and the ARPA framework to promote equitable outcomes, and more. The recordings of these meetings are posted on the ARPA website.

Each of the working groups included a community partner and County department head as co-leads, with a County Commissioner as sponsor to support the process. Working groups added additional members in subcommittees or as advisors to draw from lived and subject matter expertise and experience in the community. Please follow the link for detailed information on the structure, roles, and responsibilities of each one the working groups and its members.

Working Groups proposed recommendations to the BOCC in May 2022 that support ARPA investments in each of the three focus areas for a total of approximately $46 million in funding. Phase 2 projects were approved at business meetings in June and August 2022

Funding Allocation

$63,359,749 million total ARPA SLFRF funding awarded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to Boulder County.

Spring 2021
Pandemic Response and Immediate Needs

2021 -2022
Community Engagement and Planning

2022 – 2026
Phase 2 Project Implementation

The U.S. Department of the Treasury launched this much-needed financial relief to address the following:

  • Support urgent COVID-19 public health response efforts to continue to decrease spread of the virus;
  • Support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses;
  • Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the inequal impact of the pandemic;
  • Replace lost revenue for governments to strengthen vital public services and help retain jobs; and
  • Make infrastructure investments in broadband, clean water, and wastewater facilities.

Treasury requires that local governments address disparate impacts and achieve equitable outcomes with ARPA funds and cites President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, signed on January 20, 2021. The BOCC stated its support for that executive order and for advancing racial equity in a Jan. 27, 2021, statement.

Boulder County’s annual recovery plan describes response and recovery efforts to date, community engagement and planning efforts, consideration of equity impacts and outcomes, actual and planned uses of funds, and other information required by Treasury. See the most recent ARPA SLFRF Recovery Plan Performance Report through June 30, 2022.

Boulder County has made two rounds of funding allocations from the $63,359,749 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) award that the County received from Treasury. The Board of County Commissioners approved an initial allocation of $5,531,880 in 2021 toward immediate needs in pandemic response and recovery. The immediate needs process in Summer and Fall 2021 evaluated and responded to unmet needs of the community and internal county operations as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency that were not funded in Boulder County’s annual budget cycle.

To determine how to expend the remainder of funds, aside from administrative and a reserve for pandemic costs, the County and partners engaged in a community engagement and planning process, with the assistance of consultant Rebuild by Design and in collaboration with Community Foundation Boulder County and the ARPA Steering Committee. First, the County heard from more than 1500 residents about needs and impacts of the pandemic.

Community feedback identified three areas of greatest need: Economic Challenges, Housing Affordability, and Mental Health and Social Resilience. Working Groups formed around each of these issue areas to identify projects for a transformative and equitable recovery. Working groups were composed of community members from non-profits, businesses, and other stakeholders, and each was sponsored by a County Commissioner and co-led by a community leader and a Boulder County department head. Their work was informed by feedback from community feedback as well as stakeholder input, best practices and research, advice from subject matter experts, and other ways. Working Group members developed project ideas and then prioritized according to what would have the most impact and other criteria. Proposals were presented to the Board at a public hearing on May 3, 2022 and approved at Business Meetings in June and August 2022.

The county also previously received CARES Act funding in 2020 and Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance funds through early 2023, in addition to ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund dollars. Some of the programs and services CARES Act funds supported included grants for childcare centers, human services initiatives, local non-profits support, telework resources for county staff, public health support, and economic assistance to local businesses and non-profits.

The Boulder County Board of County Commissioners has approved $46,480,000 in Phase 2 ARPA funding, in addition to $5,531,880 for immediate needs approved in 2021. Below are descriptions of the Phase 2 projects in the categories of Economic Challenges, Housing Affordability, and Mental Health and Social Resilience.

Economic Challenges (up to $18,700,000)

Survive and Thrive Nonprofit Grants

$7,500,000 – Funds to support nonprofit organizations and childcare providers for meaningful short- and long-term investments that will stabilize their business condition, workforce, and operations (Survive). These funds will come with the requirement that awarded nonprofits engage with a variety of entities that provide business support services (Thrive).

Direct Cash Assistance to Families with Young Children

The Boulder County Board of County Commissioners has approved $46,480,000 in Phase 2 ARPA funding, in addition to $5,531,880 for immediate needs approved in 2021. Below are descriptions of the Phase 2 projects in the categories of Economic Challenges, Housing Affordability, and Mental Health and Social Resilience.

YMCA Scholarships

$500,000 – The YMCA serves approximately 1,200 children annually in childcare – preschool, before and after school care – at an average cost of $3,250 per year (which does not include the thousands of children served at camps, swimming, sports, and other programs). One-third of childcare families receive financial aid at a cost to the YMCA of $1.3 million annually. ARPA funding will support financial aid at the YMCA for high-quality, accessible, English as a second language childcare for working families.

YMCA Mapleton Site

$975,000 – The need for high-quality, affordable childcare highlighted by the pandemic and now a national priority was already known to the YMCA of Northern Colorado. ARPA funds will help renovate the Boulder Mapleton site to expand infant, toddler, and pre-k licensed childcare into three shifts (24 hours) to accommodate essential workers from industries such as law enforcement, hotels, hospitals, etc.

Childcare Village Hub

$975,000 – Capital funding and funding for operational support will contribute to development of an Early Childhood Community Village (The Village) in southeast Longmont to expand and support early childhood development in multiple aspects. Funding will be used as seed money to support the design and development of an Early Childhood Community Village concept focused on serving children ages 0 to five. The Village will bring together in one facility:

  • Professional development and training opportunities for early care providers, especially Family, Friend and Neighbor (FFN) caregivers;
  • High-quality and culturally and linguistically matched early childhood care and education;
  • Medical, social-emotional, and language support for families and professionals; and
  • Peer and community support for providers and families.

Family Connects Home Visitation

$2,000,000 – Family Connects is an evidence-based model that combines engagement and alignment of community services and resources with short-term nurse home visiting beginning in the first month after birth. Family Connects is designed to be provided to all families with newborns, voluntarily and at no cost. Family Connects ensures that families have a medical home; provide physical and mental health screenings; assess family strengths and needs comprehensively; and connect families to community resources that support their individual family needs and preferences.

Small Businesses Back Taxes

$750,000 – Funding will cover past Business Personal Property Accounts taxes for eligible businesses that closed during the pandemic. There were 1,735 Business Personal Property Accounts that have been deactivated because the business closed or struggled to pay tax obligations between the start of the pandemic and summer 2022. Not all businesses closed or are in arrears because of the pandemic, but many restaurants, gyms, hair studios, and other “contact” businesses that closed did so, at least in part, because of pandemic restrictions, loss of revenue, and other pandemic-related factors. Funds will support paying tax obligations, allowing business owners to recover and move on with their lives.

Housing Affordability, $16,780,000

Regional Housing Partnership

$1,500,000 – This project builds organizational capacity to:

  • Expand the home-ownership program throughout the County to purchase, resell, and administer existing and new ownership units;
  • Increase capacity to smaller cities that don’t have affordable housing policy, rental compliance, and fund compliance staff;
  • Expand eviction prevention services, both rental assistance and legal assistance; and
  • Expand foreclosure prevention services regionally for affordable ownership homes, with a revolving loan fund.

The purpose of the Regional Housing Partnership is to centralize compliance and homeownership program services through the Boulder County Regional Housing Partnership (BCRHP), a regional partnership and expansion collaboration not seen elsewhere in Colorado.

Manufactured Housing Park Acquisition and Upgrades

$5,000,000 – A reserve fund will supply grants or zero-interest forgivable loans to provide partial support for (a) acquisition of manufactured housing parks by residents that form residentowned communities (ROCs) or assign their rights to the County or nonprofit land trusts; (b) major infrastructure improvement projects for ROCs or landlords who commit to long-term affordability; and (c) home repair assistance for low-income residents in these communities.

Affordable Housing Pipeline

$9,480,000 – Support for affordable housing pipeline projects for gap financing and to deepen affordability on existing projects. Specific projects to be determined as part of the vetting process.

Habitat for Humanity

$800,000 – This Habitat for Humanity development will consist of a development of three tri-plex townhomes. Two of the buildings will be two-story structures with four three-bedroom and two four-bedroom units. The third building will be a single-story structure designed with a zero-entryway and doorways wide enough to allow for wheelchair access. The homes are designed for families to age in place and be easily modified to be handicapped accessible. The third building is one story and will have two two-bedroom units and one threebedroom unit. ARPA funding will support the costs for construction of the infrastructure for the development.

Mental Health and Social Resilience $11,000,000

Equitable Access (Front Door Model): Community Trainings

$500,000 – Mental Health First Aid/RISE for All will educate the broader community and help reduce stigma and increase awareness surrounding mental health. To effectively reach specific priority populations, it will be important to include a variety of training options including in-person learning; working through schools, faith- and community-based organizations; and offering classes in different languages.

Community Mobile Response Teams

$3,000,000 – Resources a mobile response team to engage individuals experiencing a mental health crisis in order to deescalate, assess, decriminalize, and determine a care plan that would result in increased access to behavioral health treatment, therapy, and supportive services. The program should be culturally responsive and coordinated across jurisdictions and across county services.

Community-Wide Navigation Hub

$3,000,000 – Provide a community-wide resource to support navigation and care coordination to appropriate mental and behavioral health services for all Boulder County community members.

Equitable Access (Front Door Model): Community-Based Grants

$3,000,000 – Grant program for mental health-related community-based organizations that allows organizations directly serving the community to either offer specific programs and services to a larger audience than they’re currently serving and/or provide these services for free.

Equitable Access (Front Door Model): Mental Health Vouchers

$1,000,000 – Mental health voucher/reimbursement program to allow community members to seek care, including alternative care, without worrying about financial burden.

Equitable Access (Front Door Model): School-Based Services

$500,000 – Model will be developed in collaboration with school and other related partners.

Financial Transactions

In November 2021, the ARPA Community Steering Committee shared the results of the Boulder County community engagement process with the ARPA Steering Committee Preliminary Engagement Report in English and Spanish.

Boulder County also retained TDA Consulting, Inc. to conduct a gap analysis analyzing data on the pandemic’s impacts in Boulder County, using ARPA spending categories to categorize data and summarize priority needs identified by community stakeholders.

Boulder County has a commitment to promoting and practicing racial equity. This report incorporates data, when available, that illuminate ways the pandemic has had racially disproportionate impacts. Please see the following link to read the report.

With the assistance of consultant Rebuild by Design and in collaboration with Community Foundation Boulder County and the ARPA Steering Committee, the ARPA Community Engagement process prioritized recommendations for a transformative and equitable recovery. The following reports further explain the process, findings, and recommendations for each phase of the Community Engagement and planning process:

Stay Informed

ARPA in the News

Boulder County’s ARPA newsletter is now published bimonthly

Boulder County ARPA News provides articles, interviews, and stories about ARPA funds and their use in three main areas: Economic Challenges, Housing Affordability, and Mental Health and Social Resilience. You will now receive the ARPA publication every two months, which will still include information to keep you up to date about the investment of federal ARPA funds in our communities.

“Each new edition of Boulder County ARPA News will feature progress being made on Boulder County’s Phase 2 Pandemic Recovery and Relief Projects supported by ARPA, with content on resource distribution, implementation of ARPA relief funds, and insights from funding recipients and project collaborators,” said Leslie Irwin, ARPA Administrator. “We are excited to share stories in the ARPA newsletter that will feature the latest developments for each project and how these funds will support those most affected by COVID-19 across Boulder County.”

ARPA Phase 2 Pandemic Recovery and Relief Projects include planned and ongoing programs for families and children, solutions to address housing affordability, and accessible programs for mental and behavioral health services amongst other transformative ideas for creating a stronger, more equitable Boulder County.

ARPA Newsroom

ARPA funds meetings recordings

ARPA Working Groups’ meetings (2022) – ARPA-YouTube

  • Watch the recording of the Boulder County Board of Commissioners Town Hall on public input of ARPA funds investment.

Sep. 9 BOCC Town Hall (2021) – ARPA-YouTube

  • Results from the ARPA Steering Committee’s six weeks of outreach to better understand the impact of COVID on community members.

ARPA Steering Committee 11/10 Presentation to the BOCC

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