FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) –Valley communities are receiving millions of dollars from the federal government as part of a pandemic recovery effort. Affordable housing, public safety, utility and rent assistance are at the top of the list for how the money will be spent.
The City of Fresno is receiving more than $170 million over the next two years through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). On Thursday, residents spoke during several hours of public comment about their needs.
“The residents have made it very clear that they would like funding prioritized for housing, the homeless issue that we have before us, and of course improving the streets and the neighborhood infrastructure that we have in the city,” said councilmember Miguel Arias.
The city has also held public meetings and sent out surveys in the past to get input.
“The administration today is recommending that we invest 2 million dollars of the American Rescue funds in replacing police vehicles that have come to the end of their life cycle,” said Arias. “I will be making a recommendation to also invest a million dollars in housing vouchers for those who are struggling to pay their rent, as well as a million dollars in Advance Peace, which is a gun violence prevention program that the city has adopted.”
The city is also proposing to allocate more than a million dollars for small businesses.
“But the good news is, the $170 million are in addition to the $300 million that the County of Fresno received. So collectively, the City of Fresno could see half a billion dollars invested in areas that we’ve never had the resources to invest in before,” Arias said.
The City of Fresno is still looking to hear from residents as they work to finalize the rescue plan budget. City leaders will continue welcoming input at future meetings; residents can also call or email City Hall.
In the North Valley, Merced City is receiving $27.4 million dollars in ARPA funds. The council approved a spending plan on Monday, prioritizing community parks, youth services, tourism, water conservation, among other needs.
“We also set aside funding to help our residents through a utility bill relief program, stimulus payments, job training, and violence prevention program,” said Stephanie Dietz, Merced City manager.
The biggest piece of the pie –$6.5 million dollars –will be spent on affordable housing. That’s in addition to other state and federal funding the City of Merced had already been granted, adding up to a total of nearly $14 million.
“We estimate that it’s more than 950 units that we’ll be able to get now,” said Dietz.