Twenty-one nonprofits have applied for a share of Lancaster city’s pandemic relief funding for “community facilities,” City Councilman Jaime Arroyo said Tuesday.
Collectively, they are seeking roughly $40 million for projects with combined budgets of more than $70 million, Arroyo told his colleagues in a brief update at the end of City Council’s meeting.
That’s many times more money than the city has available, suggesting that its evaluation committee will have its work cut out for it as it sifts the submissions.
In total, the city received $39.5 million in federal money through the American Rescue Plan Act. Mayor Danene Sorace has said the city will award at least $5 million for community facilities, and that it will likely be the last major allocation.
Last year, the city awarded $7.4 million from ARPA for affordable housing projects. Another $5.9 million was spent to buy a property, 1625 Stony Battery Road, for future expansion of the city’s water treatment infrastructure at Oyster Point. However, the city has the option to refinance the purchase, which would free up the ARPA money for reallocation.
Meanwhile, roughly half the city’s allocation, $19.66 million, is earmarked for revenue replacement in the 2021 through 2024 budgets. Those appropriations are made retroactively: To date, the first two appropriations, $3.16 million and $4.5 million, have been made; the remaining two, totaling $12 million, are pending.
The organizations seeking ARPA funding in the current round can be seen on the PennBid website, although not the details of their applications. They are a who’s who of local nonprofits and include organizations involved in health, social services, economic empowerment and the arts.
City Hall issued its request for proposals for community facilities in late November. Applicants were invited to submit ideas for “‘brick and mortar’ capital projects” that would provide “long term or permanent impact for city residents,” particularly those in disadvantaged or marginalized communities. Their deadline was Monday.
The city’s request specified that it is looking for projects that improve services, quality of life, health and economic opportunity and support programs “with a demonstrated history of success and impact.”
The proposals are varied, Arroyo said. They will be scored based on the quality of the plan, its projected impact, the breadth of the partnerships and non-ARPA funding that can be leveraged and the organization’s capacity to bring its project to completion. Successful applicants will receive city ARPA funding but must provide funding on their own as well.
The city aims to maximize the impact of its ARPA funds, Arroyo said; and if none of the proposals meet its criteria, it reserves the right to make no awards at all. He did not indicate a timeline for the review or a target date for recommendations to be announced. (Update: In a follow-up email to One United Lancaster, Arroyo said the review process would continue through February, with grant awards potentially coming as early as March.)
The review team does not award ARPA money directly. Rather, it makes recommendations to City Council, which would then make any appropriations via ordinance.