By Corinne Murdock |
The city of Phoenix plans to spend over 25 percent of its $396 million in COVID-19 relief funds on homelessness and affordable housing initiatives. It is the city’s second-highest expenditure of relief funds after city operations.
According to the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) plan for this year, over $99.5 million will be spent on homelessness and affordable housing. The majority of this, around $75.5 million, is slated to address the homelessness crisis.
Even with tens of millions allocated to mitigate the homeless crisis, notorious encampments like “The Zone” continue to worsen. City spokespersons informed reporters in September that the city is working to approve contracts and allocate the funds, which expire in 2024.
Earlier this week, the state’s largest homeless shelter told 12 News that they lacked enough resources to meet community needs, though they receive city funding. The city announced on Wednesday that it allocated $8 million to expand shelters for homeless families.
Comparatively, the city’s allocation of relief funds for other initiatives amounted to far less.
Financial, utility, and rent assistance for low-income families totaled $26 million altogether — about one-fourth of what’s slated for homelessness and affordable housing. Funds to advance the city’s workforce training facility and program, as well as establish workforce tuition and apprenticeship programs, totaled $28.5 million.
Concerning COVID-19 mitigation, the city allocated $28.9 million for testing and vaccines. From last July until the end of June, the city provided nearly 120,000 tests and 15,700 vaccines.
The city also allocated $28 million for COVID-19 health care expenses for its workers, and another $22 million to give premium pay for its essential workers. The city’s revenue replacement totaled $20 million. It set aside $23 million to rehabilitate a recycling facility and manage stormwater projects with the county’s flood control district.
$6 million went to tuition assistance and college prep for high school students, with another $3 million to update the Mesquite Library. $5.9 million went toward public Wi-Fi, with a small portion of that allocated for laptops and hotspots for the community, and $22 million to improve internet connectivity in certain neighborhoods.
$8.3 million went to refugees. $10.5 million went to climate-related initiatives: $6 million to plant trees, and $4.5 million to make 200 homes energy efficient.
Child care-related initiatives received $14.8 million, with the majority slated for airport employee child care and establishing an early childhood education program for 300 children.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.