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Housing is focus of Cleveland Mayor Bibb's first American Rescue Plan Act proposals

A house in Cleveland's Old Brooklyn neighborhood
Nick Castele
Ideastream Public Media
A house in Cleveland's Old Brooklyn neighborhood. Housing programs make up about half of Mayor Justin Bibb's first round of American Rescue Plan Act spending proposals.

Housing development programs make up the lion’s share of Mayor Justin Bibb’s first round of American Rescue Plan Act spending plans.

The mayor’s staff on Monday laid out $102.5 million in ARPA spending items to Cleveland City Council. That's about a third of the city’s remaining ARPA allocation from the federal government. City Council must approve the mayor's proposed spending.

About half of the money in the mayor's proposal would go toward housing. The administration wants to slate $35 million for housing construction, $10 million for home repairs and $5 million for home rehabilitation for small contractors and nonprofits.

Bibb is proposing to spend more than $10 million on public safety programs. That comprises $5 million to pair police with social workers to respond to mental health calls, $2.7 million for ShotSpotter gunshot detection technology and $2.3 million for dashboard cameras in police cars.

The funding would allow the city to outfit about 300 police cruisers with dashboard cameras, Chief of Police Wayne Drummond told council. Currently, officers use their body-worn cameras to record pursuits, he said.

With the additional federal funding, police would expand the city’s ShotSpotter program to cover 13 square miles, or about a third of Cleveland’s population.

City Hall itself would get about $16.4 million to replace the century-old building’s roof and insulation.

The city plans to spend $5 million to offer lines of credit to minority-owned construction firms. Another $7.5 million would contribute to a loan fund for real estate and business projects in low-income neighborhoods.

Early childhood programs would also receive funding. The Bibb administration is proposing about $1.9 million to help newly employed parents afford childcare. Another $2.7 million would fund signing and retention bonuses for childcare workers.

The city would also direct $3 million toward arts projects and $300,000 to a cash rewards program for residents who receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

Council members are proposing about $4.2 million for local programs to help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. An initiative to fund attorneys for low-income tenants facing eviction would receive $1 million.

A team of mayoral and city council staff, dubbed the Center for Economic Recovery, drew up the proposals over the last several months.

Cleveland, like all other cities that received ARPA dollars, is on a deadline. The city must commit all $512 million by the end of 2024 and spend the money by December 2026.

Council President Blaine Griffin said he aims to introduce legislation authorizing the first round of spending at council’s Sept. 12 meeting. During a multi-hour discussion of the proposals Monday, Griffin repeatedly reminded members that the city had to move quickly.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to get out of deliberation and make a decision,” he said.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.