American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
Washington County's American Rescue Plan Act report
This is the report as it was sent to the U.S. Treasury Aug. 31, 2021. While this report will be updated annually, the elements of the program may be revised in the interim, which will be reflected in the details of the plan listed below.
In addition to funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, Washington County also received received $31.7 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act in 2020. See how Washington County used those funds to support community safety initiatives, and support county residents and businesses in the county.
Washington County is reporting how American Rescue Plan Act funds were directed for the first quarter of 2022.
Washington County seeks requests for funds for broadband investment
The Washington County Board of Commissioners has allocated $2 million for investments in broadband within Washington County.
The Broadband Grant Program will provide 1:1 matching grant funding to cities, townships, and broadband providers for the expansion of high speed broadband. Eligible project areas include any unserved or underserved area within Washington County. An unserved or underserved household or business is one that is not currently serviced by a wireline connection that delivers a reliable broadband services with a minimum speed of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload.
Completed projects must allow enrollment in a low-income subsidy program. Recipients may use the funds to cover limited costs incurred for eligible projects on or after March 22, 2022. Applications are accepted on a first come first serve basis.
Washington County, while a county that is fortunate to have natural, financial, and human resources, has residents who were greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as did every area in the country. Its leadership and residents are grateful to have additional resources to rebuild the organization and assist residents as the pandemic abates.
A number of projects will address needs and deficiencies and inequities that were exacerbated in the county by the pandemic. The hungry became more evident, the unhoused became more prevalent, the un- and under-employed suffered more acutely from their financial plight. A number of programs will address and, it is hoped, alleviate these deficiencies going forward.
This report includes a list of projects and initiatives that the county will undertake in its recovery.
If you have comments on the proposed plan, they may be submitted through this email form.
Washington County is approaching its recovery efforts in two phases. The first phase over the first two years commits approximately 80% of the county’s allocation to address continued response to ongoing pandemic needs, focusing on recovery for those most impacted by the public health emergency, addressing long-standing gaps in the economy that prevent equitable economic recovery, and shoring up government services to continue to serve the needs of the community.
Almost 38% of the county’s allocation has been dedicated to the public health response. Ensuring availability and access to COVID-19 vaccination and testing best positions the county to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Equipment, service, and building modifications in the recovery plan will assist in the response to COVID-19.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provides the county the opportunity to bolster its Crisis Response Team to address the increasing mental health needs within the county.
The county’s allocation addresses economic gaps experienced by residents, businesses, and non-profits by focusing on food security, internet access, and job training, and targets support to those hardest hit by the pandemic. It addresses housing stability with housing outreach and an Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Community Health Workers will address the health disparities exacerbated by the pandemic.
The county is using a portion of the allocation to improve the county’s infrastructure to better position itself for the ongoing public health emergency. Investments in the county’s information technology, capital equipment needs, and staff augmentation – for example, in the attorney’s division to address the case backlog as a result of the pandemic – will allow the county to continue its recovery and preparation for a future COVID-19 response.
The second phase of the county’s response is dependent on evaluation and assessment of phase one efforts.
Equity considerations are central to Washington County’s work. Although the county consistently ranks as one of the healthiest counties in Minnesota, some residents are still affected by poor health. The health outcomes of populations within the county can be starkly different, depending on a variety of factors, including race, education, income, and geography. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of these disparities that already existed.
The county’s equity work involves community partnerships, collaborations, and outreach.
Approaches to make county services more equitable include:
- removal of barriers that slow response time – such as limiting personal information needed for services like food support or vaccine appointments;
- working with diverse community representatives to understand communication gaps with historically underserved, marginalized, or adversely affected groups;
- seeking trusted messengers to equalize access to information;
- translating materials and having interpreter services available;
- eliminating transportation barriers by offering rides to residents who need transportation to vaccine clinics, COVID-19 testing facilities, or food distribution events; and
- offering no-contact delivery options for food support.
The Food Security Unit will embed equity through its ARPA funded projects by:
- continuing to remove administrative structures that would slow or limit a speedy or sustained response;
- asking only for size of household and age ranges of its members to ensure food quantity is proportional;
- removing the barrier of transportation by offering no-contact deliveries; and
- explicitly seeking trusted messengers to equalize access to information and to communicate options and opportunities to residents.
Through telephone calls, emails, and face-to-face communication, resident input has led directly to the development of specific programs, including the prepared meal delivery and the Harvest Express, two programs that will continue with ARPA funds. In addition, the county sought feedback from diverse community representatives in Spring 2021 to understand communication gaps with communities of color and underrepresented groups, specifically around vaccine information.
Ongoing community engagement work around COVID-19 response and beyond seeks to work through trusted partner organizations, and residents of affected communities. At the same time, the county continues to build staff capacity and understanding around health equity and how to advance the work.
The county relies heavily on following best practices from a number of sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and professional associations for planning and service delivery within the county. Some of the projects are directly tied to the American Rescue Plan Act’s identification of a program or initiative that would reduce the disparate impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency and/or address underlying economic inequities that are exacerbating the impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Washington County is investing more than 20% of its allocation, or $11,087,000, in interventions, such as crisis response, food security, internet accessibility, housing support, community health workers, and career pathways to have a direct impact on the goals described for each of these initiatives.