At Thursday’s Erie City Council study session, city officials discussed who was hit hardest by COVID-19 in order to make a plan to use the $76 million from the American Rescue Plan (ARP).
How are they getting that information? From community groups and the people of Erie.
Erie city council officials heard from Kathy Wyrosdick, the Director of Planning for the City of Erie, on areas that could benefit from the ARP funds.
“We have been learning as more information has been released by treasury,” said Wyrosdick. “We are also watching what other communities are doing and deciding how we are moving forward.”
Some of the areas that will be in the plan include housing initiatives, infrastructure and programs to help small businesses to recover from the pandemic.
However, the main focus of this plan are minority groups.
“It clearly states the people you want to help the most are the people that were hurt the most by COVID-19,” said Mayor Joe Schember. “And that tends to be the minority population people of color, two to three times the rate of white Americans, in terms of how they are impacted.”
One of the most important parts in deciding where the funds will go is hearing what people have to say and taking those views into consideration.
“I think the focus is where people are telling us what the needs are, where people are telling us their needs are,” said David Brennan of the Erie City Council. “There is no one here making judgements. We are really getting out there.”
The City of Erie has decided to not follow Erie County’s plan to give every county employee who receives the COVID-19 vaccine a $300 incentive.
“We think protection from the virus is incentive enough,” Wyrosdick said. “But they felt differently, so I appreciate that.”
Nothing has been decided yet about where the funds will go. More discussion is necessary.
They also plan to hire an ARP manager, and that position is still open at this time.
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