- What is ARPA funding and how much was Cleveland County given?
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 (H.R. 1319) into law. The American Rescue Plan delivered $350 billion in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to respond to the COVID-19 emergency and its effects. Cleveland County has been granted a total of $55 million through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), an economic stimulus federal program designed to speed up the country's recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional apportionments were made to municipalities including Oklahoma City, Norman and Moore. Like the county, municipal governments will receive funds in two portions, with 50 percent provided in May 2021 and the balance delivered approximately 12 months later. The state also received their own allotment from ARPA funds.
- What is the timeline for funding and when will the money be spent?
All ARPA funds must be used for costs incurred by the recipient during the period that began on March 3, 2021 and ends on Dec. 31, 2024.
This funding was distributed to counties in two waves. The first was May 2021 and the second half was distributed in May 2022. Commissioners voted on a plan to allocate these dollars in August 2022, and distribution began in October 2022.
All ARPA funding must be obligated by the end of calendar year (CY) 2024 and spent by the end of CY 2026. Any funds not used must be returned to US Treasury.
- What can ARPA funds be used for?
The ARPA funds provide eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments with resources to meet pandemic response needs and rebuild the economy as the country recovers. Recipients may use these funds based on Treasury guidelines which include:
- Support public health expenditures, by, for example, funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, and certain public health and safety staff Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries, and the public sector;
- Replace lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to the pandemic;
- Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors; or
- Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand access to broadband internet.
Within these overall categories, recipients have broad flexibility to decide how best to use this funding to meet the needs of their communities. For more information see: https://tinyurl.com/b2tbk47p
- What are Cleveland County’s goals for ARPA funds and how were they determined?
From the beginning, Cleveland County Commissioners are committed to the creation of a practical and effective Recovery Plan for the Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds, where dollars are truly tied to the needs of the community. The county conducted a needs assessment of the impacts the pandemic has had in Cleveland County, including input from many diverse communities and stakeholders across Cleveland County, to determine a prioritized list of projects centered around the overriding three goals of the Recovery Plan.
From the initial community feedback, the county has created the Cleveland County COVID RECOVERY PLAN, outlining three main goals which will serve as the guide for the use of funds.
- Goal One: To ensure that Cleveland County supports the welfare of its residents with compassion and collaboration across sectors with services provided to those in need and accessible to vulnerable populations.
- Goal Two: To ensure that Cleveland County has an economy which is strong, resilient and provides diverse opportunities for its residents.
- Goal Three: To ensure the public infrastructure of Cleveland County is safe, secure, resilient and strategically focused on long-term benefits for all. These goals are the foundation for developing the overarching strategy used to determine funding priorities and projects.
Within the plan are four funding priorities:
- Public Health
- Mental Health
The county will continue meeting with residents, community organizations, and businesses and update this plan accordingly.
- What makes Cleveland County unique from other Oklahoma counties?
Cleveland County is the most diverse of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, bringing together a broad mix of urban and rural geography, stakeholders and risks. It is our proven culture of collaboration that makes Cleveland County special, and we are proud to use ARPA dollars to fortify those connections.
Cleveland County covers more than 500 square miles and a steadily growing population of close to 300,000 people (2020 census), making it the third most populous county in Oklahoma.
The county seat is Norman — home of the University of Oklahoma, the National Weather Center and numerous government facilities. While the majority of the county’s population is located in Norman, Moore or South OKC, there are also small towns and rural areas for whom the county provides services.
There is a great mixture of communities located within Cleveland County — a combination of rural areas and suburban neighborhoods; high wealth zip codes, and swaths of Qualified Census Tracts; large government employers and small mom-and-pop businesses.
This diversity in population and demographics makes Cleveland County a wonderful and interesting place to live, but also makes it difficult to use a “one size fits all” approach to recovery funding.
While residents of Cleveland County have an admirable work ethic showing a large employment increase in 2021 according to Bureau of Labor statistics, those wages fall behind the National Average and below Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. Cleveland County’s average weekly wage declined (-1.8 percent) the second quarter of 2021.
- How did officials collect input from the community / residents on how to use ARPA funding?
From the beginning, Cleveland County Commissioners have remained steadfastly committed to the creation of a practical and effective Recovery Plan for the Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery investment, where dollars are truly tied to the needs of the community.
Cleveland County hosted a series of stakeholder engagement meetings to identify needs and to assess the impact of the pandemic on our communities. To that end, Cleveland County:
- Met with community members on the front lines of public health, behavioral health, nonprofit services and local business challenges related to the pandemic.
- Used these meetings to educate community members and stakeholders on the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds eligible uses, while also identifying negative impacts and needs resulting from or exacerbated by the pandemic.
- Solicited ideas on how to address those needs to promote economic recovery and public health response.
The county also made a community feedback submission form available online.
This form was open to the public and was promoted through the local newspaper, social media, the county website and through emails to stakeholder groups throughout the county, as well as at stakeholder meetings.
The purpose of the form was to identify ways in which individuals and families across the county were affected by the pandemic. This feedback form asked how respondents were affected, if they sought assistance, and what priorities the county might focus on to recover.
- Did county officials work with nonprofits to decide what ARPA supports would be most impactful for Cleveland County?
Cleveland County’s nonprofit community is a key stakeholder in promoting an equitable recovery, as they are on the front lines serving residents in need across the entire county.
This robust network works together to provide services to disproportionately impacted populations in the county, filling service needs including behavioral health, food insecurity, substance abuse, and housing insecurity.
As Cleveland County leaders outlined continuing needs in the community as part of their recovery planning, they asked this sophisticated network of charitable organizations to share their lessons learned from the pandemic.
- How will Cleveland County monitor implementation and impact of ARPA funding?
The Cleveland County Recovery Plan will continue to evolve with flexibility to respond to immediate needs while targeting longer term recovery strategies consistent with the three overarching goals. Updates to the plan will be made as funding priorities are developed and will be updated on the county website.
This Recovery Plan will be updated annually, while the project inventory and measurements will be updated more frequently.
The Recovery Plan is a working document that will continue to provide transparency as Cleveland County moves through planning and implementation of its ARPA projects, consistent with federal and state guidelines.
- Is rental / utility assistance still available?
Our contracted administrator, Community Cares Partners has the following update as of September 1, 2022:
The Community Cares Partners application portal for rental assistance is now closed.
Submitted applications will be reviewed and processed until all program funds have been spent. We expect to meet or exceed the amount of funding we have left. If you have applied, please check your email and spam folders for communication from our teams. If you do not respond to an inquiry for information, your application will be closed and we will not re-open it.
If you did not get to apply and need help, please call 2-1-1 for available resources in your area.