April 21, 2024


Veteran Baby Makers

COVID recovery dollars: From housing to child care, Snohomish County outlines plans for spending $340 million

Snohomish County Government Dave Somers, remaining, and Main Health Officer Chris Spitters talk to reporters all through Tuesday’s media briefing.

We really don’t normally use the phrases “COVID” and “money” in the very same sentence. But the pandemic activated a tidal wave of govt expending — and Snohomish County is about to get a further $80 million to help Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and the relaxation of the county get well from the upheaval of the earlier two yrs.

Here’s the math. The county by now received $180 million from the federal CARES Act (Coronavirus Help, Reduction, and Economic Safety Act) in 2020. A great deal of that money was compensated right to you from the federal federal government at the commence of COVID. Add to that $80 million more from Congress previous calendar year by way of ARPA (the American Rescue Approach Act). Now, include a 2nd batch from ARPA — another $80 million in period 2, coming this calendar year. That’s $340 million — all earmarked for Snohomish County. That does not depend any condition or non-earnings COVID revenue. The money is continue to coming as the pandemic continues to ease up.

Even though COVID scenario numbers are up — 498 new cases, an increase from 376 the week right before — the total pattern continues downward. The normal now is 60 instances per 100,000 residents. Only 5 COVID individuals are now hospitalized. The hottest variant, the omicron BA.2 strain, accounts for 3 of every four new situations nationwide, but County Main Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters instructed reporters at Tuesday’s COVID briefing that “it seems unlikely that the new variant will produce the selection of circumstances and impacts” of the earlier strains.

Spitters warned that COVID is “not likely absent. We’re likely to have to discover to reside with the ebb and stream of cases” as the virus carries on to change. For two yrs, county inhabitants have been living with that ebb and circulation as the virus slash a deadly swath across the country: work, housing and foodstuff protection misplaced colleges and enterprises shut down, our day by day life turned upside down.

The $340 million in COVID funding is built to help households and communities proceed to get better. Snohomish County established an Workplace of Restoration and Resiliency to immediate that cash to those people who require it most.

The county has put in only a fraction of the very first $80 million in American Rescue Program Act funds that it acquired pretty much a calendar year back. Kelsey Nyland, Workplace of Recovery and Resiliency communications director, reported that only $18 million has been allotted. The funds has absent to continuing relief programs — further baby care aid, circumstance worker products and services for seniors and households influenced by the pandemic, quality shell out for essential employees, and housing help.

So, why has not it all been invested? Nyland claimed that $20 million has been set apart in county reserves and operations – in case there is a new surge of virus cases and medical wants. The county will reassess that this summer time to see if the funds can be redirected centered on what the virus does.

Other income is slated to go to courses to assist protect against the task, housing, health and food stuff crises households and organization confronted two years back. That incorporates $8 million to $10 milllion established aside to get a resort for shelter and unexpected emergency “bridge” housing for those who could possibly come to be homeless. The county has a true estate broker but has not still observed a home that will operate. The idea, Nyland mentioned, is to target on finding the unsheltered off the streets by supplying a 24/7 12 months-round facility with foods and hygiene facilities for about 120 beds.

The county will use yet another $5 million to lengthen broadband accessibility for communities and persons who do not have it now. The remaining funds will be utilised to support small business enterprise and employees who misplaced work or are underemployed, to rejuvenate the tourist sector and give more little one care offerings.

Why is it using so long for that cash to reach people today and systems that require it?

“We want to be thoughtful about how we use this revenue,” Nyland responded, “because we get only 1 opportunity to use it and we want our investments to be responsive to our communities.” Federal regulations for awarding grants also gradual the course of action, she included, since the feds call for “competitive bids,” which can choose months to comprehensive.

She expects the county will distribute a further $10 million following month to smaller business, people today who want housing, nonprofits and local community businesses.

Still, the county is a very long way from paying what’s now been awarded. So wherever will the up coming $80 million go that Congress appropriated for Snohomish County this 12 months? That is however being made a decision, and the county needs your input. Even though Nyland believes considerably of the relief funds will continue to be put in on very affordable permanent housing, and striving to solve some of the root financial problems that made people vulnerable when the pandemic hit, you can weigh in on that spending. In May perhaps, the county will maintain five in-particular person neighborhood comments periods. The dates and sites for them have not been determined we will provide that information as before long as it is unveiled.

What is in this for South County people? Nyland suggests that South County cities, for example, might want to develop their human solutions initiatives, enhance boy or girl treatment solutions, include to behavioral overall health products and services, and provide much more aid for smaller small business, tourism and housing.

Here’s the email handle where you can check with issues and offer you responses: SnohomishCounty.Recovers@snoco.org.

Each notion, Nyland claimed, is on the desk for discussion. The county is seeking community associates to help fill the requires. The purpose, when the county has packages, “is to make them exceptionally quick to locate,” she extra.

The COVID pandemic brought pain, hardship and difficulties it has also brought an infusion of funds to help rebuild some of what we dropped. The problem now: How sensibly will we expend that money for the future?

— By Bob Throndsen