COVID-19Local GovernmentNews & Opinion

Mecklenburg County Approves $99M in Second Round of ARPA Funds

Mecklenburg County commissioner Vilma Leake
Mecklenburg County Commissioner Vilma Leake addresses the audience before voting to approve the ARPA funding on Jan. 18, 2023.

The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday agreed to pay out $99.4 million in pandemic relief money from the federal government to fund 75 local projects and initiatives. 

The unanimous vote for the spending marked the second round of funding from the $215.7 total Mecklenburg County received as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), which is meant to support communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

The first round in March 2022 dispersed $59.4 million to more than two dozen organizations and nonprofits.

As with the first round, projects and initiatives receiving ARPA funds in the second round fall into five categories representing areas of need in Mecklenburg County: behavioral health and health equity; parks, environment and infrastructure; affordable housing and homelessness; workforce economic development; and childcare and early childhood development.

Several commissioners lauded the county’s ARPA funding process and the projects and organizations staff recommended the county support in the second round.

“It’s a privilege and it’s an honor to be able to sit here and raise my hand to vote for these things,” said commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell. “I really appreciate the way these funds are being disseminated to so many people and organizations. So powerful. It’s so moving to me to think of all of the folks that are going to be touched by these dollars.” 

Commissioner Vilma Leake thanked County Manager Dena Diorio for what her and her staff have done “for those who need it the most.” She added that she appreciated the funds going to local, grassroots organizations instead of big corporations.

Commissioner Leigh Altman noted that it’s been a difficult four years, not just politically, but also in other ways.

“A lot of people have lost faith in government and their elected officials and the ability for the system to work for them and so let this be a reminder of all that is good, all that we can do together when we put people first, when we put community first, when we put loving our neighbors first,” Altman said.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of where the pandemic relief funds are going.

Affordable Housing and Homelessness: $39.3 million

Funds dispersed in this category will help fund:

  • The addition of 536 affordable apartment units
  • The preservation of 35 existing single-family homes to remain naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH)
  • The addition of 29 affordable single-family homes
  • Efforts to mitigate gentrification
  • Stable housing for justice-involved youth
  • Rental assistance
  • Senior housing to support aging-in place efforts
  • Housing for veterans and their families
  • Homelessness support, including victims of domestic violence

The majority of funding in this category is paying for the construction and preservation of affordable housing units, including $6 million to the county manager’s office to support the Eddington/Hoskins acquisition that will preserve 35 single-family homes (NOAH) in the west corridor.

The Salvation Army is getting $3.2 million to build a 4,800-square-foot addition to the Center of Hope Shelter for women and children, located just north of Uptown. This project will include six enclosed rooms, each with four beds, a multi-purpose room and bathrooms with showers. The enclosed rooms will be occupied year-round and the multi-purpose room will be used for cold weather overflow with the ability to fit 50 beds.

CrossRoads Corporation for Affordable Housing and Community Development was awarded $145,000 to add to their existing capital funding to quickly respond to private developers in an effort to mitigate gentrification to purchase land, as well as provide down payment mortgage assistance to new home buyers in the Grier Heights community.

Behavioral Health and Health Equity: $34.2 million

Funds dispersed in this category will help fund:

  • Facility improvements and transportation services to enhance service delivery
  • Free medical and mental health services for transgender and gender diverse individuals
  • Treatment and outreach services to help victims of human trafficking
  • Additional resources to help meet the increasing demand for mental health services for LGBTQ youth
  • Solutions to address food security
  • Solutions to address healthcare disparities among minorities
  • Substance abuse and trauma services
  • Mental health services for the underserved

Among the organizations in this category slated to receive a piece of the county’s ARPA funds are Carolina Farm Trust, which will use $3 million to construct a new food production and distribution center in west Charlotte

Camino Health Center is getting $4.7 million to launch a new dental program to address the needs of Charlotte’s Latino population. Funds will go toward renovations of their current location as well as purchasing a new mobile dental clinic.

Mecklenburg County’s public health department will use $3.3 million to implement a Violence Prevention Plan to address community violence. The plan engages diverse partners including local government agencies, community residents, stakeholders, community-based organizations and local businesses to provide safe and healthy communities.

Workforce and Economic Development: $11 million

Funds dispersed in this category will help fund:

  • Mentoring and vocational training
  • Training and workforce preparedness for local artists
  • Career training on health care positions
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) career development
  • Workforce training that targets the immigrant community
  • Apprenticeships for women
  • STEAM Training

Mecklenburg County is giving $1.5 million to the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte to support a Hispanic/Latino Center for Economic Opportunity in the Albemarle Road Corridor of Opportunity. The center will serve as a destination for employee recruitment, skill building and workforce training with the goal to help Hispanic/Latino families living in lower opportunity communities get and stay on a path to living wage income and asset building.

Parks, Environment, and Infrastructure: $7.7 million

Funds dispersed in this category will help fund:

  • The renovation of a historic gymnasium in north Charlotte
  • Stream enhancements
  • Air quality improvements
  • Playground accessibility improvements at nine county parks

Childcare and Early Childhood Development: $7 million

Funds dispersed in this category will help fund:

  • Free and/or affordable summer camps for underserved communities
  • Free after school care programs
  • Repairs for childcare facilities
  • Programming to address the social emotional wellbeing of children who have an incarcerated parent

All ARPA recipients have until Dec. 31, 2024, to spend the funds.

SUPPORT OUR WORK: Get better connected and become a member of Queen City Nerve to support local journalism for as little as $5 per month. Our community journalism helps inform you through a range of diverse voices.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *