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Housing, public health top Clark County spending plan for federal aid

Clark County’s preliminary plan for spending $440 million in federal pandemic aid over the next five years is heavily focused on supporting two key areas: housing and public health.

More than $150 million, or nearly 35 percent of the total, could be spent expanding and retaining affordable housing and providing housing assistance such as emergency shelter and transitional living for the homeless.

And $70 million, or 16 percent of all funding, might be invested to enhance health care facilities and mental health and substance abuse treatment, and meet capital needs in public facilities to respond to the pandemic.

The tentative priorities for the American Rescue Plan funding were laid out Tuesday in a report to the County Commission. It comes after weeks of input from county officials, nonprofit and public sectors and the broader community.

“I think that this is a good start for us to really talk about the long term,” commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said.

Now the county must submit its local recovery plan to the U.S. Treasury Department by Aug. 31.

Officials underscored that the spending plan is flexible and can change, but recommended funding allocations provide a sense of how a historic sum could be dished out through 2026.

“It is not an endpoint,” said Andrew Belknap, senior vice president with Management Partners, which has been consulting the county. “It’s simply a beginning.”

Nonprofits and public agencies have submitted hundreds of detailed preliminary applications for programs and projects that must still be reviewed. Specific project or program funding decisions will be made later this year and in 2022, officials said.

Beyond housing and public health, which accounted for more than half of all proposed funding, other priorities tentatively set to receive money include small business and nonprofits ($46 million); government services ($44 million); and job training assistance ($41 million).

Lesser amounts were to be set aside for COVID-19 vaccination and testing; rental assistance; education assistance; child care; infrastructure; and community violence interventions, according to the report.

The federal funds, which are roughly $125 million more than provided under last year’s CARES Act, are meant to support those hardest hit by the pandemic.

The money is particularly targeted at assisting low-income communities that have historically faced inequities, according to officials.

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

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