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Members Encouraged to Connect with Local Officials on Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Opportunities

LeadingAge NY and our colleagues at LeadingAge National want to ensure that members are aware of a potential funding opportunity through the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. This funding is part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and it provides a mechanism for counties, cities, and local communities to receive funding relief. We understand that local governments are currently in the process of planning how to use funds, and some providers have had success in getting their priorities considered in the planning. Thus, we encourage members to connect with local officials now and to articulate your needs.

The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds provide substantial flexibility for each government to meet local needs—including support for impacted industries, essential workers, and the communities hardest hit by the crisis. The objective is to help communities recover from the pandemic from a public health and economic perspective. This funding can be used for many purposes, but below is a summary of some of the potential opportunities we see for LeadingAge NY members in reviewing the interim final rule. This is not an exhaustive list, and the funding is somewhat flexible within the overall context of recovery from the pandemic.

Eligible Uses

Funding can be used to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to small businesses and non-profits or aid to impacted industries. It can also be used to support workers performing essential work during the PHE by providing premium pay to eligible workers. It can also be used to make necessary community investments such as broadband infrastructure.

Small Businesses and Non-Profits

Small businesses and non-profits faced significant challenges in covering payroll, mortgages or rent, and other operating costs as a result of the PHE and measures taken to contain the spread of the virus. State, local, and Tribal governments may provide assistance to small businesses to adopt safer operating procedures, weather periods of closure, or mitigate financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 PHE, including:

  • Loans or grants to mitigate financial hardship such as declines in revenues or impacts of periods of business closure, for example by supporting payroll and benefits costs, costs to retain employees, mortgage, rent, or utilities costs, and other operating costs; and
  • Loans, grants, or in-kind assistance to implement COVID-19 prevention or mitigation tactics such as physical plant changes to enable social distancing, enhanced cleaning efforts, barriers or partitions, or COVID-19 vaccination, testing, or contact tracing programs.

Eligible Uses to Address Disparities in Public Health Outcomes

In recognition of the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on health outcomes in low-income and Native American communities and the importance of mitigating these effects, the interim final rule identifies a broader range of services and programs that will be presumed to be responding to the PHE when provided in these communities. Specifically, it is presumed that certain types of services, outlined below, are eligible uses when provided in a Qualified Census Tract (QCT). QCTs are a common, readily accessible, and geographically granular method of identifying communities with a large proportion of low-income residents. In identifying these disproportionately impacted communities, recipients should be able to support their determination that the pandemic resulted in disproportionate public health or economic outcomes to the specific populations, households, or geographic areas to be served. Given the exacerbation of health disparities during the pandemic and the role of pre-existing social vulnerabilities in driving these disparate outcomes, services to address health disparities are presumed to be responsive to the public health impacts of the pandemic. Specifically, recipients may use payments from the Fiscal Recovery Funds to facilitate access to resources that improve health outcomes, including services that connect residents with health care resources and public assistance programs and build healthier environments, such as:

  • Funding community health workers to help community members access health services and services to address the social determinants of health;
  • Funding public benefits navigators to assist community members with navigating and applying for available federal, State, and local public benefits or services; and
  • Housing services to support healthy living environments and neighborhoods conducive to mental and physical wellness.

Building Stronger Communities Through Investments in Housing and Neighborhoods

The economic impacts of COVID-19 have likely been most acute in lower-income neighborhoods, including concentrated areas of high unemployment, limited economic opportunity, and housing insecurity. Funding can be used to alleviate the immediate economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on housing insecurity while addressing conditions that contributed to poor public health and economic outcomes during the pandemic, namely concentrated areas with limited economic opportunity and inadequate or poor-quality housing. Eligible services include:

  • Services to address homelessness such as supportive housing, and services to improve access to stable, affordable housing among unhoused individuals;
  • Affordable housing development to increase the supply of affordable and high-quality living units; and
  • Housing vouchers, residential counseling, or housing navigation assistance to facilitate household moves to neighborhoods with high levels of economic opportunity and mobility for low-income residents, to help residents increase their economic opportunity and reduce concentrated areas of low economic opportunity.

Premium Pay Fiscal Recovery

Funds payments may be used by recipients to provide premium pay to eligible workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 PHE or to provide grants to third-party employers with eligible workers performing essential work. These are workers who have been and continue to be relied on to maintain continuity of operations of essential critical infrastructure sectors, including those who are critical to protecting the health and well-being of their communities. Specifically noted are staff at nursing homes, hospitals, and home care settings and social service and human services staff.

The ARPA recognizes this by defining premium pay to mean an amount up to $13 per hour in addition to wages or remuneration the worker otherwise receives and in an aggregate amount not to exceed $25,000 per eligible worker. To ensure that the provision is implemented in a manner that compensates these workers, the interim final rule provides that any premium pay or grants provided using the Fiscal Recovery Funds should prioritize compensation of those lower-income eligible workers who perform essential work.

Background

The ARPA includes $3.8 billion for the 57 counties ($2.2 billion) in New York State and New York City (NYC) ($1.6 billion) based on population. Click here for a distribution table by county. NYC will receive another $4 billion in Community Development Block Grant formula funding. The funding is intended to:

  • Support urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control;
  • Replace lost revenue for eligible State, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs;
  • Support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses; and
  • Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic.

For more information on this funding, see this guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Click here for a Treasury Fact Sheet and here for a reference guide. Both provide a summary of the uses of this funding.

Conclusion

Members are urged to reach out to your local governments now to identify the needs of your organization and your workforce. You should act now to ensure that you are a part of the planning process. In framing your requests, be sure to consider what funding you are otherwise pursuing and the rules associated with it. Some funders will not provide financial support for items and activities that are otherwise supported by other sources of funding.

Contact: Diane Darbyshire, ddarbyshire@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8828