Saturday, September 24, 2022

San Jose spends federal funds on resident relief, business support

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San Jose is getting ready to spend the balance of its multi-million dollar allocation of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan, giving out the last round of dollars to a variety of programs this summer.

The remaining $78 million of the city’s total $212 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will be distributed during the upcoming fiscal year 2022-23. Residents will have an idea of what that allocation looks like when the first draft of the city’s budget is made public this week.

The $134 million spent last year has already been divided between residential relief, small business support, homeless services and child education programs. Those funds were about 60% of the allocation, or $80 million. Another $45 million reimbursed general fund costs, according to Budget Director Jim Shannon. The remaining $9 million was divided among emergency housing, energy savings retrofits and other programs.

The funding breaks down as follows:

Resident relief

More than $39 million went to residential relief programs focused on housing stabilization, food, re-employment and workforce development. These programs included rent relief, eviction prevention help centers and support for Project Homekey locations.

The largest allocation, $17.5 million, was spent on food services including grocery distribution in hard-hit neighborhoods, dry goods food programs and the activation of food and distribution centers for essentials items such as hygiene products.

Small business support 

Small business relief programs, which operated almost entirely out of the city’s Office of Economic Development, allocated $16.6 million in ARPA funds in the form of small business grants, outdoor dining and supplemental legal assistance for tenants, among other programs.

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About $2.7 million went to small business grants, said Nanci Klein, director of economic development. Of that, 92% served the hardest-hit census tracts mostly in East San Jose.

“The dollars San Jose channeled to the small business community have been essential and one key metric is how we identified and allocated dollars to (disenfranchised communities),” Klein told thecupertinodigest.com. “We are getting ready to disperse our next round for folks who didn’t get it last time.”

One of the programs not operated out of the office of economic development was San Jose Abeirto—which received $4.2 million to fund the arts community and public space activation.

Services for homeless camps

San Jose spent $12.2 million on services for homeless individuals, including $700,000 for public restrooms and $450,000 on vehicle abatement programs and patrols.

BeautifySJ, a city-run program that cleans up blight and employs unhoused individuals for trash collection, received $11 million to expand its team and services, as well as another $100,000 to provide community grants.

Daniel Lazo, spokesperson for the city’s parks, recreation and neighborhood services department, said 84 grants went to help individuals, nonprofits and businesses clean up blight.

“Through these funds, the BeautifySJ program developed a systematic approach to provide regular trash service, more frequent engagement with unhoused residents and a more sanitary environment for all San Jose residents,” Lazo told thecupertinodigest.com, adding the department is requesting a similar amount of funding to continue services.

Child and education programs 

About $6.2 million went to programs focused on digital equity, child care learning pods and funds to support new child care providers. The majority of the funds went to reduce the digital divide highlighted during the pandemic, as students switched to remote learning. San Jose spent $2.1 million to provide hotspots, tablets and other technologies and $750,000 to expand community Wi-Fi into libraries and other public spaces.

Councilmember Sylvia Arenas said she wished more child care programs were funded through the first round. However, an additional $20 million in ARPA dollars for child care services is expected in the next budget cycle.

“This is real progress,” Arenas told thecupertinodigest.com. “But we haven’t done enough. We see this with the number of families leaving San Jose and in the number of school closures.”

What’s next? 

Shannon, the city budget director, said because most of San Jose’s ARPA funds have been allocated, it will be difficult to continue providing the same levels of service and programming.

“Some will not be able to continue, some will be done at lower levels of service and some we will try to maintain at the same level,” Shannon told thecupertinodigest.com.

He said priorities will be similar to last fiscal year, but will align with the mayor’s budget priorities approved by the council in March—homelessness and affordable housing, public safety and fighting blight.

“The way we distributed money was in-line with the needs of our residents and our city at the time,” Councilmember Pam Foley told thecupertinodigest.com, adding she hopes to see ARPA funds prioritize homelessness prevention, encourage economic development and ensure San Jose becomes a more clean and safe city.

The City Council will discuss ARPA funds and budget priorities at its May 11 meeting. Learn how to watch and participate.

Contact Jana Kadah at jana@sanjosespotlight.com or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

The post San Jose spends federal funds on resident relief, business support appeared first on thecupertinodigest.com.

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