Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan announces application plan for American Rescue Plan Act funds
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan has announced an application plan to fairly distribute American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Since fall, Sheehan, a Democrat, has proposed allocating $25 million from the city's $80.7 million in American Rescue Plan money to fund a limited number of "highly impactful programs that can produce profound results." At city hall Thursday she unveiled the Albany For All initiative.
"So we convened a task force, we worked with community leaders, from every sector across our community, to ensure that we had input and that we have a deep understanding of the biggest challenges that our various sectors faced during the pandemic," Sheehan said. "And because of the pandemic, they drafted a report which was released in August. And that diverse group really helped to ensure that we did a deep dive into our community, we had 17 task force and working group meetings, we did two public surveys with more than 1,000 respondents, we had 60-plus direct meetings with community members and community groups. And that resulted in the identification of the impact area needs that are reflected here, and what the priorities were in each of those impact areas. So it really helped us to be as strategic as we could possibly be about how we are going to invest this funding in the city of Albany."
The result is a 76-page report that Sheehan says provides a framework for recovery.
Sheehan says $8 million will go toward housing, transportation and community revitalization. $7 million toward education, workforce and human services. $4 million to supporting the public health response. $3 million is earmarked for small business support, with another $3 million going to help travel, tourism, hospitality and arts recovery.
Organizations are invited to participate in a pre-application process now open on the Albany For All website.
“So if we have seven applications around child care, we'll be looking at pulling in those various applicants and working on how we can ensure that they're, we're, working together and that we're not duplicating efforts. So that will be the pre application process," said Sheehan. "Once we've gone through that pre application process, then we will go back out to the applicants and they will need to do a deeper dive with respect to providing the information that will be necessary for us to then be able to fund those projects. So we are looking to getting to get this funding out as quickly as possible.”
Sheehan says there are no hard deadlines. She says requests will be evaluated by a panel of local leaders within a February timeframe, to go through applications, respond and get the funds distributed and working in the community. Sheehan also issued a call for volunteers to help grade and interview applicants.
Albany’s COVID Recovery Task Force Co-Chair Jahkeen Hoke says “We're looking forward to opening our city up and getting back to business, but also building it with some resiliency, with the use of this funding that we have in front of us here. And so, again, to echo the mayor's thoughts, you know, let's get some volunteers, let's get some of these businesses back open. But also, we need some help, we need some volunteers to also not just great, but also come up with some good ideas that others may not really know about or think that could change the city and change it for better.”