The BOCC and the working groups will focus on three main areas of investment: economic challenges, housing affordability, and mental health and social resilience.
Boulder County, Colorado. – The Boulder County Council of Commissioners (BOCC) announced next steps in the process to determine how best to invest federal funding for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to meet the needs of those most affected by COVID-19. Three working groups will be created to work from January to March 2022 to identify and recommend project, program and policy solutions that address the three main challenges identified during the first phase of the community engagement process: challenges economic, housing affordability and mental health and social resilience.
The working groups will be made up of community members, leaders of nonprofit organizations, policy experts, county leaders and staff with expertise in the focus areas. The process will include a National Expert Forum and Ideas Symposium, and draw on thought leaders and best practices to create opportunities for transformative solutions for a stronger, more equitable Boulder County. Community members with expertise in the areas of interest and wishing to apply can do so before December 14th via this link.
The Focus Areas are based on insights and insights gathered from Boulder County residents during the first phase of the process. âThe participation of Boulder County residents has been invaluable as we gain insight to understand how residents have been most affected by the pandemic and how we can co-design solutions. I deeply appreciate the community partners who have worked through 2021 to co-create the Phase I community engagement process and continue to lead the ARPA Community Steering Committee, âsaid Commissioner Marta Loachamin. A report on the results of the first phase is available on the ARPA website at boco.org/arpa.
Economic challenges are the number one problem identified as affecting residents and businesses of Boulder County. Many survey respondents raised the interconnected issues of cost of living, small business needs, workforce development, child care and other economic issues. This particular working group will recommend initiatives that address economic challenges within the community, with particular emphasis on issues that have been magnified by the pandemic.
âThe lack of affordable housing in Boulder County existed before the pandemic, straining household budgets to the point where there was no cushion. For some community members, the loss of income during the pandemic and the additional expenses needed to stay safe have exacerbated their housing instability. The combination of ARPA dollars and the ability to leverage other available funding provides a unique opportunity to make significant investments in housing in Boulder County, âsaid Commissioner Claire Levy. The Housing Affordability group will explore solutions to address the housing crisis in Boulder County for renters, landlords and those aspiring to become homeowners.
The Mental Health and Social Resilience Working Group will explore options that bring communities together and address mental health and public health issues as well as social isolation, including access to technology. âMental health and social resilience have been worsened by the pandemic due to social isolation, stress or fear, or many other reasons, as evidenced by rising rates of suicide and depression, l burnout and substance use. These are difficult and important issues to solve, and I appreciate that ARPA funds provide an opportunity to significantly invest dollars to improve the mental health and resiliency of Boulder County residents, âsaid Commissioner Matt Jones.
Boulder County has received $ 63.3 million in ARPA funding to help meet community needs and address the negative and disparate economic impacts of COVID-19. The BOCC works in partnership with Rebuild by Design, the Boulder County Community Foundation and local community partners to identify policies, programs and projects that will improve outcomes for the people of Boulder. For more information and updates, visit the American Rescue Plan Act web page at boco.org/arpa.