Vt. officials say $1B in statewide ARPA funding allocated
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - The state of Vermont has officially earmarked all $1 billion of its federal pandemic recovery funding, according to state leaders who gave an update on the spending Thursday.
By the end of June, Vermont had started over 150 projects and many more are in the works. The federal American Rescue Plan cash has and will continue to have a huge effect on local communities. A big chunk of the money has gone to housing and broadband. Leaders say there are new housing units coming online every day and that 2,800 families have found housing so far using these funds.
“When we’ll start to see a difference is when those vacancies rates start to change, when you start to see some availability. Right now, you don’t see any availability ever. Right now, we need to reach a little more equilibrium,” said Vermont Housing Commissioner Josh Hanford.
He says the federal funding has helped create 4,000 housing units. Right before the pandemic started it was estimated Vermont needed 5,800 units.
The Scott administration has made an effort to make sure the ARPA funds are being spent in a geographic, economic, and racially equitable way over the next four years. “The money was appropriated through the Legislature, working with the administration. And it’s very important that Vermonters know how this money is moving forward, how it’s been appropriated, and what the progress is in how we’re spending it,” said Doug Farnham, deputy secretary with the Vermont Agency of Administration.
But some towns in rural communities have been struggling to spend the cash because they don’t have the staff to fill out the necessary paperwork. The governor’s cabinet has been touring across the state and meeting with local leaders to guide them through the process to make sure there isn’t any money left on the table
The ARPA money is just a fraction of the pandemic funding channeled to Vermont in the last two years. Since the spring of 2020, Vermont has seen over $10 billion for programs including expanded unemployment, PPP loans, and the CARES Act.
While the federal government has had to claw back some of that money from some states because of violations in how it was spent, officials say that has not been the case in Vermont. The feds did take back about $31 million in rental assistance funds last winter because they weren’t being spent fast enough.
The state has four years to spend the ARPA money. Meanwhile, more funding is on the way. Vermont is slated to receive over $2 billion from the federal infrastructure bill
State officials tour NEK to discuss unspent ARPA funding
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