States, cities, and counties with more than 250,000 people must publish annual Performance Plan Recovery Reports on how they will use their SLFRF. In addition, all states, localities, tribal governments and territories must submit Project and Expenditure Reports detailing the projects being funded with SLFRF and the progress implementing them. You can use the Treasury Department database of reports to figure out which projects are being supported and determine how much funding is still available
The Direct Cash Assistance program started with the desire to quickly provide funds to the approximately 10,000 workers in St. Louis whose unemployment benefits had been cut short in 2021. The program targeted households that suffered a loss of income during COVID due to job loss, cut hours, medical treatment or funeral expenses.
The program was initially proposed by a Stimulus Advisory Board, assembled by the Mayor and composed of community development organizations, racial equity organizations, academics, environmental organization, legal advocates, disability advocates, small business owners, etc. The proposal was then taken up by Mayor Jones and approved by the Board of Aldermen and implemented by the Department of Human Services in partnership with United Way of St. Louis.
The Stimulus Advisory Board (SAB) implemented a needs assessment survey for residents, reviewed requests for services received during the pandemic and also conducted public feedback meetings to identify the needs of St. Louis residents. Members of the SAB were also inspired by Universal Basic Income pilots in other cities, but some policy challenges combined with the desire to move quickly resulted in the proposal of a one-time direct cash assistance program.
Once the program was in the implementation phase, getting the word out about the program and supporting would-be-applicants was key to the success of the program. The City organized application fairs at community colleges focused on seniors, people with disabilities and individuals without internet access. These events were well attended, bilingual and provided opportunities for applications to be done in person rather than online. Additionally, nonprofits and service providers did outreach with their members and constituencies to ensure participation of a broader population, especially for undocumented immigrants. Other key messengers were schools, libraries and nursing homes. Word of mouth between friends and family was also an important source of applicants, but encouraged the self-replicating effect of reaching to similar networks instead of broadening outreach to new group
The program provided assistance to 9,300 residents with an income below the 80% Area Median Income. Applicants had to provide proof of residency and income to qualify, which increased hesitancy among undocumented residents and made it harder for them to access the funds. While residents all across the city were recipients of the program, disbursement was higher in neighborhoods in the north and eastern parts of St. Louis City. These are precisely the areas of the city that are predominantly Black and have the highest percentage of their population living below the poverty level.
Survey results show that recipients used their relief money to pay for basic needs like rent and mortgage (28% of recipients), utilities (70%) and groceries (68%). Health expenses (23%), transportation (32%) and other bills (30%) were other expenses recipients were able to afford with the assistance. Some recipients said the assistance prevented them from having to choose between urgent basic priorities or dipping into worse financial situations, like homelessness. Single parents, seniors, those with medical conditions and those who were having a hard time finding a job in the middle of the pandemic were especially vocal about how the cash assistance had helped them. A lot of recipients described the effects the money had on their mental health, like reduced stress and anxiety. Additionally, the program also made recipients feel supported and increased their trust in the city. Despite these outstanding results, recipients agreed that one-time assistance was not enough. 99.3% of survey respondents believe the City of St. Louis need to implement a program like this again.
Detroit Action has been calling for a robust affordable housing plan in Detroit that includes Right To Counsel for the past three years. The Right to Counsel ordinance would guarantee free legal representation for low-income residents facing evictions and other housing-related legal problems. After years of organizing, In May the Detroit City Council approved the Right to Council ordinance that would use ARPA funds to pay for the measure for the next three years.
Through building a community-led coalition, housing justice advocates and organizers across Detroit came together and aligned to fight for right to counsel because we saw that as eviction moratorium ended renters were not going to be supported in being able to maintain their housing through the court system nor be given affordable housing options. The coalition agreed on endorsing specific housing justice candidates for city council. Once our champions were in office various groups lobbied while Detroit Action and other groups engaged in a three-month long mobilization campaign, driving community members to call their local representatives, submit public comments, and attend public hearings on the use of funds.
Our approach to organizing was to keep the most impacted folks at the table, directing us toward what we needed to demand. And through that we were able to craft our messaging, strategy and narrative around their lived experience. We galvanized the community to act because this was happening to too many Detroiters. The campaign is not over. We know that what was passed now was an attempt to ease the pressure off of passing true housing justice centered policies. We won a short term goal, but will keep organizing until this program is fully funded and adequate enough to truly impact on the housing disparities in Detroit.
We worked with the following organizations and groups under the Right to Counsel Coalition: United Community Housing Coalition; Detroit Eviction Defense, Michigan Legal Services, Lakeshore Legal Aid, Dykema, State Bar of Michigan, Ford Foundation.
Detroit Action is a union of Black and Brown, low and no-income, homeless and housing insecure Detroiter fighting for housing and economic justice. Our organization is a grassroots and member-led, multigenerational, community-based organization fighting for real political power.
The goal of the campaign was to highlight the inequities of housing expansion in Detroit. Over the past 5 years we’ve seen renters across the city, especially in low-income Black and Brown communities, live in increasingly uninhabitable homes and are still forced to pay higher rent or face homelessness. The campaign’s goal was to highlight this structural problem, call out our elected officials to fund people first during the 2022–2023 budget cycle, especially since over 18,000 eviction cases were filed in 2020 alone.
The Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker is an online resource that compiles information from local governments to offer a detailed picture of how large cities and counties (with populations of at least 250,000) are deploying the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund dollars.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Toolkit was developed by the Southern Economic Advancement Project to assist community leaders, local officials and advocates to better understand the program, all while promoting equity and community engagement.