Pontiac, MI - Oakland County has allocated more than $27 million of its initial share of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to address acute needs of residents and businesses.
County Executive Dave Coulter and the Board of Commissioners will infuse $16 million of those funds into post-pandemic mental health resources and services. In addition, the remaining allotment will support workforce development, small business recovery, and legal aid for residents experiencing crisis housing and utility needs related to COVID-19.
“I’m so pleased that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners took swift and unanimous action on my administration’s proposals for continued COVID-relief funding through the American Rescue Plan. Despite encouraging numbers on the COVID-19 front, with declining case numbers and increasing vaccination rates, there still are acute needs that need to be addressed as we emerge from the pandemic,” Coulter said. “So, the millions that will be set aside for mental health treatment, workforce initiatives, housing assistance and services for businesses will go a long way to ensuring that our residents and businesses recover from this public health crisis.”
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the Coulter administration’s recommendation for use of the ARP funds Wednesday night.
“These funds will address a handful of our immediate needs to improve our public and mental health, assist the most vulnerable, help workers secure good-paying jobs and accelerate our economic recovery,” Board Chairman David T. Woodward (D-Royal Oak) said. “Working closely with Executive Coulter, this is just one of the many bold steps Oakland County continues to take to guarantee we all come out of this pandemic stronger than we were before it began.”
Ten million dollars in ARP funds will establish the Oakland Together Mental Health and Wellbeing Non-profit Grant Program to offer grants to non-profit organizations delivering mental or behavioral health services and associated support services with a goal of increasing the capacity of these organizations to meet the growing demand for their services.
The county will designate another $4 million for the Oakland Together Mental Health and Wellbeing Emergency Room Services Grant Program to support health care providers experiencing an increase in patients visiting emergency rooms seeking mental or behavioral health care.
Next, $2 million will go toward the Oakland Together Mental Health and Wellbeing School Partnership Grant Program to increase availability of mental and behavioral services in Oakland County public schools. Program funding may be utilized for a one-to-one matching grant with Oakland County school districts to assist with costs associated with expanding access to behavioral health professionals, including social workers, psychologists or psychiatrists, and behavior analysts. Program funding may also be utilized to support Oakland County Youth Assistance and other initiatives that support mental and behavioral health and overall wellbeing of at-risk students.
Oakland County is utilizing more than $9.6 million of ARP funds to support small businesses and residents getting back to work, $6.6 million of which is committed to the Oakland Together Skilled & Educated Workforce Program. Here are the program details:
- More than $2.8 million to fund the Oakland80 Career Navigators project, which will fund between six and a dozen career navigators who will embed in communities throughout Oakland County to help individuals understand their skills and the potential education and training paths to gain access to high-quality in-demand jobs.
- More than $1 million to build on a partnership with Oakland Livingston Human Services Agency (OLHSA) to deploy three success coaches in support of the Oakland County Business Resource Network which helps businesses and their employees address issues related to workforce retention.
- $1.5 million to assist individuals facing financial barriers to accessing career credential and higher education programs.
- $1.2 million to provide an equitable recovery-related childcare for disproportionately impacted individuals and families seeking a return to work.
Oakland County is committing $3 million for the acute needs of Oakland County businesses impacted by the pandemic. The $2.5 million Oakland Together Small Business Recovery and Resilience Business Professional Services Assistance Grant Program will assist businesses and non-profits facing economic challenges due to COVID-19 obtain professional support services. Another $500,000 will enable Oakland County’s Economic Development Department to obtain the services of business community navigators to provide counseling and technical assistance to businesses and organizations in obtaining federal, state, and local relief resources.
Finally, Oakland County’s Neighborhood Housing and Development Division will leverage $2 million to work with qualified legal aid and assistance organizations such as Legal Aid & Defender Association, Lakeshore Legal Aid, and Oakland County Mediation Center Legal Aid, to help residents experiencing crisis housing needs related to the pandemic, including eviction, foreclosure, and rent and utility bills, among other issues.
Additional information on how to apply for grants will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.
Congress has allocated more than $244 million of ARP funds to Oakland County of which it has received the first disbursement of $122 million. The ARP established the following high-level categories for authorized use of state and local governments to use the funds:
- Supporting public health expenditures
- Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency
- Replace lost public sector revenue
- Provide premium pay for essential workers
- Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure
County Executive Coulter established the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force on April 15 to gather information and make recommendations in the development of a strategic framework for the expenditure of Oakland County’s ARP Funds. Thirty-one volunteers representing broad cross-section of community stakeholders, including representatives of the education, non-profit, local government, construction, restaurants, labor, health care and business sectors have issued recommendations to address immediate community needs and economic challenges posed by the pandemic. Coulter and his administration will continue to consult with the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force to make additional recommendations to make long-term transformational investments in the county.