ARPA Innovators: City of Utica
by J. Caroline Williams, Lead-Free Mohawk Valley, with an introduction by Sarah Goodwin, NCHH.
This is the fourth entry in our “ARPA Innovators” blog series. If you want to read more about the goals of this series or brush up on general information about the American Rescue Plan Act, you can read our opening post here.
This entry is about multiple projects in the city of Utica, New York. Funds have been allocated to support exterior home repairs, replace windows with identified lead paint hazards, start a new pilot program to address home environmental asthma triggers, and supplement the city’s existing lead hazard control program.
ARPA funds in the City of Utica have been awarded to implement several projects in Utica across two phases: Phase I consists solely of the Utica ARPA Residential Exterior Repair Program, while Phase II includes the Supplemental Lead Hazard Reduction Funding Program, ARPA Asthma Pilot Program, and the ARPA Window Replacement Program.
Utica ARPA Residential Exterior Repair Program
The City of Utica and the HomeOwnershipCenter are partnering to implement pandemic relief funding from the American Rescue Plan, announcing a $2 million investment into a residential rehabilitation, which will provide money to homeowners and landlords to make exterior improvements to their properties.
The $2 million in funding will cover up to $25,000 in rehabilitation costs for eligible homes in financially distressed districts that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Exterior repairs that could be covered through the exterior repair program include roofing, new windows and doors, water line replacements, siding improvements, home heating system updates, and porch and garage repairs.
Eligible homes must be within Utica, up to date on tax payments, have no active code cases and be within a qualified U.S. Census tract or 60% or below area median income levels.
Supplemental Lead Hazard Reduction Funding
The average cost of lead hazard reduction for housing units in the city of Utica is $18,575 as compared to the $10,000 average unit cost estimated by HUD. Therefore, $970,000 in ARPA funding has been allocated to address additional lead and environmental health risks in Utica housing units.
To be eligible for Supplemental Lead Hazard Reduction Funding service, properties must be located within the city of Utica, have been constructed prior to 1978, and have an identified lead hazard. This funding may be used to supplement the Lead Safe Utica (LSU) program or as standalone funding. Residential properties, both rental and owner-occupied, may participate. Eligible units must be up to date on tax and utility payments, have no active code cases, and meet qualifying criteria as stated in the terms and conditions of the Lead Safe Utica or standalone program.
Utica ARPA Asthma Pilot Program
Through the process of implementing the City of Utica’s HUD Lead Hazard Reduction and Healthy Homes Supplement Grant – Lead Safe Utica Program, it was determined that many of the properties have conditions negatively affecting indoor air quality. To address this problem, $250,000 has been allocated to an Asthma Pilot Program (APP) to reduce incidence of asthma attacks by correcting environmental conditions conducive to triggering an attack, in collaboration with local health services providers, demonstrating upstream cost savings to payers, and improving health outcomes.
Properties receiving these specific interventions to reducing asthma triggers must be located within a Qualified Census Tract, residents must meet qualifying criteria as stated in the terms and conditions of the Lead Safe Utica program, and either have or possess the ability to obtain a referral from a health provider partner. Only residential properties with one to four units, both rental and owner-occupied, may participate; multifamily properties (those having five units or more) are not eligible for this program.
Utica ARPA Window Replacement Program
The Utica ARPA Window Replacement Program will provide up to $200,000 in incentives and education to homeowners and landlords willing to address lead-based paint windows installed prior to 1978. The program will require participants to comply with local housing permits, ordinances, and lead-safe work practices. This program will fund the replacement of roughly 480 windows.
Properties receiving these windows and services must be located within a Qualified Census Tract, have been constructed prior to 1978, have older wood sash windows, and have an identified lead hazard.
This funding may be used to supplement the Lead Safe Utica program or as stand-alone funding. Only residential properties with one to four units, both rental and owner-occupied, may participate. Multifamily properties (five units or more) are not eligible for this program.
Qualifying applicants will be eligible for up to $3,000 in funding towards replacement windows. Applicants can purchase additional windows separately to replace windows beyond what the program covers, and such purchases may qualify towards property-owner match requirements for properties also applying for NYSHCR Weatherization services through the local administering agency.
Qualifying applicants (or their selected contactors) must be RRP-certified prior to ordering windows. The Window Replacement Program will pay for RRP certification courses for approved contractors, property owners, or their designated representative.
How Innovative Communities Are Using ARPA Funds to Transform Housing and Address Environmental Hazards
Read or revisit the introductory blog about our “ARPA Innovators” or visit another blog in this series:
The American Rescue Plan: A New Opportunity for Healthy Homes Funding
Read our previous blog about the American Rescue Plan, by NCHH’s Sarah Goodwin and Devra Levy from the Childhood Lead Action Project.
The American Rescue Plan: Opportunities to Address Lead in Paint and Pipes
This fact sheet from NCHH clarifies the applicable uses for ARPA funding by states and localities and demonstates how communities can benefit from investments in lead-based paint remediation and lead service line replavcement. [pdf; NCHH, 2021]
The American Rescue Plan: Opportunities to Address Lead Hazards in Homes
This fact sheet from NCHH clarifies the applicable uses for ARPA funding by states and localities and demonstates how communities can benefit from investments in various healthy homes-related programs. [pdf; NCHH, 2021]
J. Caroline Williams, a graduate of Cornell University, is the Program Manager at the Utica Neighborhood Housing Services HomeOwnershipCenter. Her current role supports the Environmental Work Group for the Lead-Free Mohawk Valley and Healthy Homes Coalition with a focus on lead poisoning prevention and healthy housing. She helps local governments, agencies, and citizens build capacity to address environmental health hazards as part of their larger project goals and objectives. Prior to joining the HomeOwnershipCenter, Caroline was responsible for implementing an encompassing strategy for collective impact at the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Inc.