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Clark County OKs $71M for pandemic recovery programs

Clark County lawmakers on Tuesday authorized spending the county’s largest chunk of American Rescue Plan Act aid to date: More than $71 million to assist with public health, housing support and other services geared toward a pandemic recovery.

The commission approved $71.5 million in grant funding to county departments and more than 30 local nonprofits for programs costing more than $100,000 that can be up and running within three months.

Eighty-one percent of the awards will benefit low-income or communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The American Rescue Plan Act encouraged local governments to address the severe effects of the pandemic for low-income communities and people of color.

It was the second phase of the county’s rollout of $440 million in federal aid under the act, which it received earlier this year. Nearly $90 million has thus far been obligated, according to Chief Financial Officer Jessica Colvin.

The first phase of funds went toward programs costing less than $100,000 that could launch immediately. The remaining funds will be set aside in an upcoming third and final phase for long-term programs, such as permanent housing and capital projects.

“Our goal now is to use the funding we have received from the federal government to build a strong, equitable recovery in our community and to remove any barriers that prevent people from getting back on their feet,” Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick said in a statement.

The county had received 79 applications requesting more than $257 million in funding during the second phase, according to a county staff report. After gathering public input, applications were reviewed and scored based on criteria that included weighing experience and qualifications.

The Foundation Christian Center and St. Jude’s Ranch for Children were awarded $4 million each, the largest grants of all the nonprofits. The Christian center will use its funds on small business and economic assistance, according to the county, while St. Jude plans to construct a healing center for victims of sex trafficking, Commissioner Justin Jones said.

The county’s social services department received $14 million for shelters to assist people experiencing homelessness, the largest award for a county department.

Meanwhile, the county has allocated $10 million in funds from the act toward COVID-19 mitigation, nearing a self-imposed cap of roughly $15 million. Jones suggested that officials consider widening such spending amid fears that the omicron variant will lead to a new surge in cases.

“Other jurisdictions are increasing their resources for testing and booster shots,” Jones said.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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