The American Rescue Plan: Over $1.7 Billion Budgeted So Far on Healthy Homes Work
by Sarah Goodwin
In August 2021, we wrote about the opportunity present in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for communities to use the flexible funding source to improve housing quality; in April 2022, we published a series of blogs about states, cities, and counties that were doing just that: spending the funds on efforts to remove lead hazards, improve water quality, and repair homes.
Now, we’re following up with a survey of the publicly released data from the Treasury Department on how communities are using these funds. There’s a lot of information below, but the bottom line is that so far, we’ve counted 368 projects1 by states, cities, and counties that have cumulatively budgeted over $1.7 billion towards healthy homes. And to be honest, that might be an undercount: The total doesn’t include projects from communities where reporting isn’t public, projects that have been announced or developed since the last round of reporting, certain categories of work that is adjacent to or related to healthy housing, and any other projects that may not have been captured in our survey.
At first glance, this $1.7 billion allocation looks like just a small percentage of the total $350 billion available to states and localities under ARPA; but by understanding how communities have been able to use the ARPA funding to supplement what’s available to them to address these issues through regular federal funding streams, we can see the significance of this investment. For example, you’ll see below that states and localities have budgeted $72 million for lead poisoning prevention so far. That’s 23% of the most recent federal appropriation for HUD’s lead hazard control grants ($315 million)2 and 41% more than the most recent annual appropriation ($51 million) for CDC’s entire Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. Having access to ARPA as a flexible, multiyear source of funding has allowed communities to unlock a new scale of investment to address these issues and should enable them to make a big impact on healthy homes.
Where to Find This Information
The Department of the Treasury maintains this page on ARPA reporting requirements. Here, you’ll find information on what recipients are required to report; below the “Public Reporting” heading, you’ll find downloadable spreadsheets with the public data. We encourage you to study the spreadsheets yourself and learn more about the range of projects communities are undertaking.
Should you examine these data yourself, it’s important to note this caveat from Treasury regarding their data:
To support transparency, Treasury will publish data reported by recipients throughout the SLFRF program. Data users should refer to Treasury’s Compliance and Reporting Guidance for additional context on reporting fields. Published reporting fields may change over time.
Treasury is not pre-approving projects. Releasing these data does not indicate that Treasury has made a determination about project eligibility. Furthermore, Treasury cannot confirm the accuracy of submitted information, including financial data. SLFRF projects announced by jurisdictions after the reporting period may not be included in reporting data.
This lack of review by Treasury of the data means that some summaries are much more formal or detailed than others.
The Information Included in the Public Reports
ARPA recipients are divided into five tiers:
- Tier 1: states, territories, and cities/counties with more than 250,000 people.
- Tier 2: cities/counties that have less than 250,000 people (or are non-entitlement units of local government, or NEUs) but received more than $10 million in ARPA funding.
- Tier 3: tribal governments that received more than $30 million in ARPA funding.
- Tier 4: tribal governments that received less than $30 million in ARPA funding.
- Tier 5: cities/counties and NEUs that have fewer than 250,000 people and received less than $10 million in ARPA funding.
Tiers 1, 2, and 3 are required to submit reports quarterly; tiers 4 and 5 are required to submit annually. At the time of this survey and writing, the most recent quarterly report available was for the period ending December 31, 2022; the most recent annual report available was for the period ending March 31, 2022. Since reports from tribal governments (tiers 3 and 4) are not published publicly, our survey includes data from states, territories, cities, and counties (tiers 1, 2, and 5). Treasury published a report on how tribal governments have implemented these funds in November 2022, sharing that tribal investments so far have included 136 affordable housing projects and 66 drinking water projects. Some examples include the Eastern Shoshone Tribe’s work to weatherize and rehabilitate senior housing, the Karuk Tribe’s investments in temporary and permanent housing following a wildfire, and the Ohkay Owingeh’s improvements to a deteriorating wastewater treatment facility. Read more about these projects and others in the Treasury’s Tribal Recovery Report.
In putting together our data, we looked at three ways communities in tiers 1, 2, and 5 are reporting spending so far: through adopted budget, total cumulative obligations (defined by Treasury as “an order placed for property and services, contracts and subawards made, and similar transactions that require payment”), and total cumulative expenditures (defined by Treasury as “the amount that has been incurred as a liability of the entity (the service has been rendered or the good has been delivered to the entity)”). Note that the Tier 5 entities frequently left the adopted budget line blank, even when they also indicated that funds had been obligated or expended. In addition, some communities chose to bundle multiple activities together as one project, so our totals are estimates because we didn’t attempt to break projects down beyond what the communities provided.
With all that said, based on the Treasury reports, tiers 1, 2, and 5 have…
- Adopted budgets with $1,718,224,622 for healthy housing-related activities.
- Obligated $655,547,387 for these activities:
- Tiers 1-2: $614,488,208
- Tier 5: $41,059,170
- Expended $145,305,681 for these activities:
- Tiers 1-2: $138,427,503
- Tier 5: $6,878,178
These projects break down across the following topics… (numbers have been rounded)
- Home repairs, including many programs that address specific healthy housing issues, like lead paint hazards, mold, environmental asthma triggers, and modifications for aging in place: $508 million budgeted and $128.6 million obligated. There are 112 projects total in this category. Vermont’s Housing Improvement Program, which we featured in our blog series, is one example; additional examples include Volusia County, Florida (Tier 1, project ID TPN-059906); Cook County, Illinois (Tier 1, project ID TPN-109121); Oakland County, Michigan (Tier 1, project ID TPN-025156 and TPN-098400); and Rincón, Puerto Rico (Tier 5).
- Addressing other residential drinking water quality/access issues: $416.6 million budgeted and $4 million obligated. There are 43 projects in this category. Vermont’s Healthy Homes programs, which we featured in our blog series, makes up a large amount of this funding (33 of the projects); additional examples include Ocean Ridge, Florida (Tier 5); and Cabo Rojo and Ponce, Puerto Rico (both Tier 2, project IDs TPN-092944 and TPN-093344).
- Addressing hazards in schools: $268.6 million budgeted and $208.4 million obligated. These projects address issues including lead in dust and water, poor indoor air quality and ventilation, and mold that have a negative impact on children’s health; addressing exposures at schools can go hand in hand with efforts to improve housing quality and remove these same hazards from children’s homes. There are nine projects in this category. Much of this number is accountable to North Carolina, which we featured in our blog series; other examples include Massachusetts (Tier 1, project ID TPN-113157) and the District of Columbia (Tier 1, project IDs TPN-107419 and TPN-018308).
- Lead service line replacement: $213.1 million budgeted and $121.4 million obligated. Note that this may include projects that could complete partial repairs, as full lead line replacement is not required under ARPA. There are 71 projects in this category. Pittsburgh’s allocation, which we featured in our blog series, is one example; other examples include Richmond, Virginia (Tier 2, project ID TPN-094343); Akron, Ohio (Tier 2, project ID TPN-079159); Richfield City, Utah (Tier 5); and Middleborough, Massachusetts (Tier 5).
- Weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades: $95.8 million budgeted and $56.7 million obligated. Many of the home repair projects include weatherization measures as well. There are 40 projects in this category, including those in New Haven, Connecticut (Tier 2, project ID TPN-105946), Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Tier 1, project ID TPN-064233); and Itasca County, MN (Tier 5).
- Addressing PFAS in drinking water: $90.5 million budgeted and $56.8 million obligated. There are 34 projects in this category, including those in Arizona (Tier 1, project ID TPN-012682), Ada County, Idaho (Tier 1, project ID TPN-041556); and Cheney City, Washington (Tier 5).
- Lead poisoning prevention, including both primary and secondary prevention measures: $72.2 million budgeted and $52.1 million obligated. There are 16 projects in this category. Utica’s work, which we featured in our blog series, is one example in this category; others include Harris County, Texas (Tier 1, project ID TPN-086185); Virginia (Tier 1, project ID TPN-038699), and Kalamazoo, Michigan (Tier 2, project ID TPN-098273).
- Electrification: $25.6 million budgeted and $5.5 obligated. There are six projects in this category, including projects in Takoma Park, Maryland (Tier 2, project IDs TPN-110627 and TPN-116761); and Boston, Massachusetts (Tier 1, project IDs TPN-013962 and TPN-108728). Some of the projects categorized under weatherization may also include beneficial electrification.
- Other lead in water work (including inventories and corrosion control): $12.2 million budgeted and $9.5 million obligated. There are 21 projects in this category, including those in Rowan County, North Carolina (Tier 2, project ID TPN-008952); and Weldon Village, Illinois (Tier 5).
- Work to increase local housing/code inspection capacity: $6.3 million budgeted and $740,287 obligated. There are five projects tackling issues like these, including Alameda County, California’s efforts to develop a rental registration/PRI program (project IDs TPN-059042 and TPN-059067) and Syracuse, New York’s plan to purchase XRF equipment for inspectors (project ID TPN-092700).
- Public engagement work related to environmental hazards or healthy homes: $4.3 million budgeted and $3 million obligated. There are four projects in this category, including Bay City, Michigan’s plan to create a neighborhood engagement officer position for home repair program implementation (Tier 1, project ID TPN-071022) and St. Louis, Missouri’s plan to hire community health workers and other staff (Tier 1, project ID TPN-010935).
- Resiliency or disaster response work in homes: $4.3 million budgeted and $2.7 obligated. There are five projects in this category. Linn County’s PATCH program, which we featured in our blog series, is one example; others include Pompano Beach, Florida’s resiliency retrofits program (Tier 2, project ID TPN-030206) and Bucks County, Pennsylvania’s flood recovery program (Tier 1, project ID TPN-050244).
- Addressing woodstoves: $2.3 million budgeted and obligated. This is solely from Oregon’s pilot program to replace woodstoves in homes (Tier 1, project ID TPN-094381).
- Aging in place: $1.07 million budgeted and obligated. This is solely from Frederick County, Maryland’s program (Tier 1, project ID TPN-061132). Many of the home repair projects may also include some work that helps older adults in their homes.
Overall, we captured 306 projects in tiers 1-2 and 62 in tier 5—a total of 368 projects from 231 recipients representing 44 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa.
We did not include projects doing the following (though some of these activities may have been bundled with work we did count):
- Improvements to public buildings/facilities (except schools as noted above)
- Demolition of hazardous sites (e.g., old factories)
- Other water infrastructure (e.g., hydrants, tanks)
- Building affordable housing
- Temporary housing, homelessness response/support services
- Utility payment assistance
- Rental assistance/eviction prevention
- Non-home repair financial assistance (e.g., help with tax delinquency, titles, first-time homebuyer services)
- Legal aid
The Work Continues…
As mentioned above, the current most recent data available from Treasury runs through December 31, 2022, for the states and larger localities, and through March 31, 2022, for the smaller localities. We expect that when the next batch of reports is made available, even more locations will have allocated ARPA funds toward improving housing quality. For example, two we already know aren’t included in this survey include New Jersey’s $170 million allocation from last summer to address lead paint in homes and apartments and Chautauqua County, New York’s allocation of $700,000 to the local health department to address lead-based hazards.
Aligning American Recovery Plan Dollars to End the Toxic Legacy of Lead Poisoning
The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative published a blog about how ARPA funding can reduce and possibly end unnecessary lead exposures.
Other Ways to Track ARPA Funding
ARPA State Fiscal Recovery Fund Allocations
Every day, the National Conference of State Legislatures updates this page that tracks how states are using their ARPA funds.
Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker
This tracker, a partnership between Brookings Metro, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities, collects all the projects from local governments in tiers 1, 2, and 5. Items are searchable by category and keyword.
NLIHC State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Database
The National Low-Income Housing Coalition maintains this database on ARPA housing investments in all 50 states, DC, and 60 localities.
State Recovery Plans
This page from the National Association of State Budget Officers collects reports on use of the recovery funds, which states and territories must submit annually.
1 This figure was calculated and de-duplicated using the project ID provided by Treasury, which is unique to each project; however, recipients have different methods for how they bundle activities together. Some recipients may group a few different activities together as one project if they see them operating together. Others may split several similar activities across multiple projects. For example, the state of Vermont provides a weatherization initiative through multiple subcontractors, and each subcontractor allocation has been labeled as a different project, while Pennsylvania has a home repair program for nonprofits and governments that is listed as a single line item. We tried to be somewhat conservative and only include projects in our count when the healthy homes aspects were significant.
2 The total appropriation for the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes was $410 million in FY23, including $315 million for lead grants.
Sarah Goodwin joined NCHH as a policy analyst in June 2017. She previously served NCHH as a policy intern, helping to establish and run the Find It, Fix It, Fund It lead action drive and its work groups. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies: Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government from American University.