ARPA benefits connect vulnerable Madisonians to basic needs
In July 2021, I submitted, and the Common Council approved, a plan to allocate $22.8 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds for community investments, including nearly $8.3 million to spend in 2021. Of this immediate allocation, $150,000 in ARPA funds will be used to support connecting to the basic needs of Madison’s most vulnerable populations. I am happy to say that these funds have been vital in stabilizing many Madison residents in the new year.
One of the partners in this work was Tellurian. Funding for Tellurian’s work has enabled the organization to reach more homeless Madison residents than ever before, especially during non-traditional office hours when other agencies are not open. It also expanded transportation assistance, which allowed Tellurian to increase the amount of funds given to drive-in campers. Tellurian was able to exceed its goals for the number of people with disabilities served and double the total number of people served.
Increased funds for survival equipment, hygiene products and emergency food allowed Tellurian to reach people camping remotely farther from resources, as well as those camping in their cars. These funds have helped prevent frostbite, address health issues for homeless people, and reduce the risk of death while they sleep homeless. In addition, these funds have helped promote housing search, increase coordinated entry registrations, increase access to medical care, increase access to mental health care, increase access to day shelters and promote job search with access to gas cards and bus tickets.
This funding also supported Outreach, an organization that specializes in supporting Madison’s LGBTQ+ community. Outreach has helped 54 LGBTQ+ adults and families in the Madison area, meeting their basic needs, including help with transportation, food, utility bills, clothing, and housing. They too were able to double their goal of individuals served and served nearly 4 times as many families with children experiencing homelessness than they expected. The ability of these organizations to exceed their goals by such margins shows that they are responding to urgent and widespread needs in our community, and that by funding community organizations that know best how to serve their communities, these ARPA funds can have the greatest impact. .
Each of these numbers represents someone’s story. Empower Home, a program of YWCA Madison, was also a recipient of these ARPA funds. In one case, they were able to provide direct financial support to a mother to cover unexpected childcare costs, enabling her to continue working. After the father of her child was ordered to pay child support, there was a decrease in the child care financial assistance she received from the state. Empower Home was able to provide him with support that allowed him to get along with the daycare and avoid losing his job. She is hopeful that she will receive a promotion soon and hopes to find permanent accommodation in the near future.
Another Empower Home participant was able to replace a flat tire on her personal vehicle. With her new home, she was able to stabilize herself as well as her daughter. She attended a school of psychology with the aim of working with young people in her community. She also won the Stark Scholarship, which paid for her final semester of schooling, as well as the books and tech support she needed.
Another Empower Home resident and her one-year-old baby were referred to the program by a homeless shelter. When she joined Empower Home, she did not have any form of income or financial support, but received direct assistance in the form of a housing allowance. Once in the program, she was able to get W-2 benefits, which allowed her to seek employment and daycare. During the program, she received case management support to resolve issues of domestic violence and her abusive ex-partner, which included family court, restraining orders and MPD support. Now that she is about to complete her program, she has a stable job and expects a promotion to a management position shortly. She will transition to community housing in a rental home, where she will also receive support from a rapid rehousing program. Stories like these make real the incredible number of people these organizations have been able to support through this ARPA grant. I am grateful to our partner organizations for their work and to the Biden administration for making ARPA funds directly available to cities. I look forward to more successes as we continue to implement ARPA-supported programs here in Madison.
Update 2/9: The language above has been changed to indicate that not all $150,000 of program funds have been spent to date.
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