Aug 10, 2022 - News

How the Triangle is spending its COVID money

The front entrance of the Raleigh Municipal Building.
Front entrance of the Raleigh Municipal Building. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

Hundreds of millions of government dollars are being spent in the Triangle thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

What's happening: Local lawmakers are deciding how to spend their share of $350 billion in COVID-19 emergency funding.

  • The money — which much be budgeted by 2024 and spent by 2026 — could have big impacts on our communities.
  • While some of the money is already budgeted, millions of dollars are still on the table — including $24 million in Raleigh and $22 million in Durham.

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said affordable housing is the No. 1 priority for the remainder of the city's funding.

  • "What we're doing right now is seeing, OK, how is this all going," she told Axios in a recent interview. "We've set some of it aside, potentially, for an acquisition of land that could help us with affordable housing. But we want to make sure we just don’t go out and spend it all — that we be strategic."
  • Baldwin declined to comment on the location of the land, as she worried it could affect negotiations.
Here's who is spending what:

Raleigh will spend $73.2 million by 2026.

  • Among the nearly $50 million in funding it has already budgeted: $8 million to buy a hotel and turn it into permanent housing, $200,000 to fund events in downtown, $650,000 for improvements to City Plaza and the Raleigh Convention Center and $1.2 million for Haven House, which provides services for vulnerable youth.
  • Baldwin also told Axios she would like to use another $1 million of ARPA funding to expand ACORNS, a team inside the Raleigh Police Department using social workers to respond to calls about mental health issues, substance abuse and homelessness.
  • You can find a list of funded initiatives here.

Durham is set to spend $52 million, with $22 million still not allocated.

  • More than $7 million went to hazard pay for city employees.
  • Durham is giving more than $20 million to 34 nonprofits and projects serving the community, including an eviction debt assistance fund, funding an incubator for Black-owned food businesses, digital literacy training and re-entry housing support for individuals leaving prison.
  • Here's a rundown of all 34 funded projects.

Cary has budgeted its full $20 million in ARPA funding, a town spokesperson told Axios.

  • Some $12 million of it will go to adding new sidewalks around town, $3 million to reduce health premiums for employees and improve retention and $5 million for affordable housing programs.

Chapel Hill has so far spent a little less than $4 million of its $10.7 million in ARPA funding, according to a town spokesperson.

  • More than half a million of that is going to the town's ReVive project, which provides grants to existing businesses and startups.
  • Chapel Hill has also outlined plans to spend around $2.5 million for affordable housing and homelessness services. And around $3 million on parks facilities and greenway infrastructure.

Wake County will receive $217 million by the federal government. The county has already allocated $115 million of that, CBS 17 previously reported.

  • More than $50 million of that has gone to public health response to COVID-19, including providing free testing. Another $7.5 million went toward retention bonuses for county employees.
  • More than $40 million is going toward county initiatives such as a creating a "social determinant health network" meant to help vulnerable communities overcome health care barriers ($12 million), and reducing homelessness ($10.5 million).
  • $20 million went to 71 local nonprofits, including: the Boys & Girls Club of Wake County, the Lucy Daniels Center, El Centro Hispano and the Diaper Bank of NC.

Durham County is receiving $62 million. Local groups have until Aug. 15 to apply to receive a cut.

  • The county has set a framework for spending its money, including $10 million for expanding broadband in unincorporated parts of the county, $3 million for crime reduction efforts, $3.5 million for expanding behavioral health support and $10 million for housing security support.

The bottom line: The ARPA funds are giving the Triangle an unprecedented opportunity to make creative, meaningful and lasting investments.

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