Federal funds will soon be used to provide additional relief to Arlington residents. Arlington recently announced the launch of the Tenant-Homeowner Assistance Fund, which will provide rental and mortgage assistance to those who have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Households will be eligible to receive up to $2,500 per month for four months, according to a press release posted on the city’s website.
The program will be funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Arlington is expected to receive approximately $35.25 million in ARPA funding, which will be used for various initiatives over the next few years. About 3% of that money is set aside for tenant relief, Arlington says ARPA Framework.
Arlington has set aside about $930,000 for the tenant-landlord relief fund, Department of Planning and Community Development director Jennifer Raitt said in a recent video broadcast on Arlington Community Media. The city began accepting applications on March 4. These application forms are available online at www.arlingtonma.gov/arpa. Residents can also get physical copies at the town hall. The city will provide translation assistance for applicants.
The fund will be open to all Arlington households, regardless of income level. Those who apply simply need to prove they rent or own their home, have a primary residence in Arlington, and have documented “current or previous inability or difficulty paying rent or mortgage due to COVID-19,” according to the release. from the city.
This program is designed to expand federal funding Arlington previously received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, Raitt said. CARES Act funding for community development has been in place since the early days of the pandemic. Arlington also supplemented CARES funding with Community Preservation Act (CPA) dollars to provide emergency rental assistance to tenants in the city, according to Raitt.
The Landlord Tenant Assistance Fund aims to fill the gaps that previous funding has not been able to fill.
“This program fills in some of the gaps that this program revealed, and we wanted to be able to support as many tenants as possible, which we weren’t able to do with previous programs,” Raitt said in his video interview.
Although this program is open to people of all income levels, it was designed to take into account that the pandemic has been more severe for those who earn less money, she added. Those whose applications are accepted will be split into different tiers based on their income. The amount of money they receive and the duration for which they receive it depends on their level. The city aims to extend assistance to low-income people for longer and provide more per month, Raitt said.
“The ARPA resource is more flexible, it allows the city to support more households that we believe will be eligible for assistance, but due to restrictions from previous programs, have not been able to access the funds,” said Raitt said. “We also believe there are people who have been hit hard by the pandemic as well as the regional housing crisis we’ve been in for some time.”
Other ARPA Allocations
The large amount of ARPA money that Arlington will receive means officials have had to plan for its use. In October, the Select Board formally approved Arlington’s ARPA framework. This document details how this money is likely to be used.
Although the Select Board has approved a general framework, not all of these allocations are fully locked in yet. Several categories still require further planning and review by a select committee.
Most of the money, 22% or $7.8 million, is allocated to affordable housing. This proposed funding will be for improvements to the Arlington Housing Authority (AHA) as well as the creation of new affordable housing.
The second largest portion of funding is reserved for water and sewer expenses. This represents 19% or $6.6 million. That could be used for replacing water meters, repairing sewer pump stations and replacing some of Arlington’s 130 miles of water pipes, according to a memo from DPW Director Mike Rademacher.
Smaller portions of Arlington’s ARPA allocation will be distributed to a wide range of projects. Approximately 11% will be invested in parks and open spaces, 6% in HVAC improvements, 4% in small business assistance, and 2% in behavioral health support. The details of these financings are available on the City’s website.
The US Treasury releases the ARPA money in two phases. One was released in May 2021 and the second will be released in mid-2022.