City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to disburse $5 million from Lancaster’s federal pandemic funds to support construction and renovation at local community facilities and $1.6 million for a partnership with Lancaster County to expand local homelessness services.
The awards represent the last major disbursements to third parties from the city’s $39.5 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation. Its remaining ARPA dollars are earmarked to fill budget holes in 2023 and 2024 under ARPA’s “revenue replacement” provisions.
Lancaster city: ARPA grants for community facilities
- Boys & Girls Club of Lancaster: $600,000 for improvements to clubhouse spaces.
- Bright Side Opportunities Center: $500,000 for renovations.
- Church World Service: $250,000 to create a welcome center for refugees.
- Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County: $400,000 to renovate Crispus Attucks Community Center and housing for domestic violence victims.
- Lancaster Public Library: $500,000 to fit out the library’s new Ewell Plaza location.
- Lancaster Recreation Commission: $750,000 for facility expansion.
- Spanish American Civic Association (SACA): $500,000 for renovations to the Hispanic Community Center to provide human services.
- Spanish American Civic Association (SACA): $500,000 for renovations to Tec Centro West to expand vocational training.
- South Ann Concerned Neighbors: $250,000 to build a community hub.
- Uni-Vision Childcare: $250,000 to renovate space to expand a Spanish Immersion Center for early education at 505 W. King St.
- Union Community Care: $500,000 to create a dental clinic at the health provider’s downtown Lancaster location.
The $5 million for community facilities will fund 11 projects at 10 nonprofits, supporting services including healthcare, childcare, education and housing.
Representatives of several recipient nonprofits thanked City Council before the vote. The $600,000 that Boys & Girls Club of Lancaster will receive “is a game changer,” CEO Karen Schloer said.
“I wish we could do more of this,” Mayor Danene Sorace said.
The $1.6 million for homelessness services is the final portion of $10 million from ARPA that City Council dedicated to affordable housing and homelessness services.
It will be split 50-50 on two initiatives: $800,000 will go toward expanding emergency shelter in Lancaster for three years, and another $800,000 will support the conversion of 134-36 S. Prince St. into a hub for homelessness services.
City Council was to approve the funding at its April 11 meeting, but the issue was tabled after council members raised concerns that the intergovernmental agreement they were being asked to endorse did not have clear enough budget and timetable commitments from the county.
Those concerns were addressed in several new provisions. The amended version of the agreement provides that the city will not release its funds until its counterparty, the Lancaster County Redevelopment Authority, provides detailed project plans and budgets and proof that it has committed enough of its own funds, along with the city’s, to get the work done.
In other words, “The city’s ARPA dollars will be last-in,” said Rebecca Geiser, deputy director for health, housing and community development.
The emergency shelter project aims to add 40 beds to the city’s capacity. The county authority has until Sept. 30 to provide a plan and budget; the added capacity is to be opened by Dec. 1 and remain available through April 1, 2026. The opening date is a slight change; it was originally to be this August.
The target date for the homeless services hub has been modified, too: The county authority is to have a plan and budget finalized in time to open the site by September 2024; in the first version, it was April.
The city and county authority plan to cooperate closely, Geiser said. Craig Walt, chief of the city’s Bureau of Lead Safety & Community Development, is vice chair of the Lancaster County Homelessness Coalition’s steering committee, which will be involved in developing the strategy.
The agreement calls for the city and the authority to collaborate on requisitioning a provider for the added shelter capacity, and the hub renovations will go through the city’s normal development approval processes.
The county authority’s board approved the agreement at its meeting Tuesday afternoon.