With more than $40 million of federal Rescue Act monies now in Chelsea’s hands, the City announced it will embark on a model participatory budgeting process to decide what to do with at least $15 million of that money.
In response to COVID-19, the U.S. Department of the Treasury established the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, known as ARPA, to provide $1.9 trillion in emergency funding for state, local, territorial and tribal governments. The City of Chelsea is expected to receive a total of approximately $40 million, and approximately $15 million will be dedicated to initiatives and priorities established by the community. The remaining $25 million is to be dedicated to budget and revenue shortfalls incurred by City government due to COVID-19 expenses and losses.
For the $15 million community-led effort, the City will establish an ARPA Community Advisory Committee (CAC) made up of community stakeholders and residents to ensure the equitable, transparent, and accountable distribution of these funds.
“We have kicked off the recruitment process for residents and we’ll have our first CAC meeting in late August,” said Alex Train, director of the Department of Housing and Community Development. “We’re thrilled about this. It’s a daunting undertaking. It will be the largest community process we’ve done to date, but we believe it could be a model for others to follow.”
The community CAC will have nine member seats available and they cannot be associated with a non-profit or an organization, and cannot be an elected official. Those nine members will be paid at a rate of $40 per hour, Train said.
Community-based organizations will have nine seats as well on the CAC, but they will not be paid, and there will be two City Councillors named to the CAC too. That will give a total of 20 members.
There are six categories they will look at for dispursing the $15 million, including housing, small business, food security, mental health, environment/open space, and workforce development.
The City encourages all Chelsea residents 16+ to apply to be part of the Community Advisory Committee regardless of their immigration status. Eligible candidates can apply online at https://forms.gle/rd4xnHsqH2hJ8tpKA. Hard copies are also available at Chelsea City Hall during business hours (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 8 am – 4 pm; Tuesday 8 am – 7 pm, and Friday 8 am – noon). The application period is open until August 11.
To know more about the ARPA fund, please visit www.chelseama.gov/ARPA. If you have questions about applying to be a member of the Community Advisory Committee, please email [email protected] or call 617-466-4209.