Meck County approves $59M in funds from American Rescue Plan Act

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Mecklenburg County commissioners unanimously approved $59 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. But Mecklenburg EMS will have to wait a little longer to get federal money to hire and retain paramedics.

The ARPA funding is designed to help communities hit hardest by the pandemic.

The money will go to more than 40 organizations that are focused on affordable housing and homelessness, behavioral health and childcare, among other things.

The funds include $2.9 million to Loaves and Fishes to expand its home-delivery program

There will be $2.5 million going to Camino Contigo that will provide group and individual counseling to the Latino community.

Habitat for Humanity secured $1 million to help with land acquisition. The money will be used to build 15 affordable homes in locations that have access to highly-rated schools, higher surrounding property values, and lower violent crime rates.

Commissioner Vilma Leake, D-District 2, said she is thrilled to approve so much money for groups that need it.

“I think about my ancestors,” Leake said. “Can you see them? I can see them. I know they are dancing tonight.”

MEDIC requested the money last month from the American Rescue Plan Act but didn’t get it.

At last check, Mecklenburg EMS was short 67 EMTs and paramedics. The agency had applied for American Rescue Plan funding so it could offer retention bonuses and recruitment incentives.

It’s possible MEDIC can reapply for the funding in the fall.

Full statement from MEDIC:

“Medic applied for financial support from the first round of American Rescue Plan Act funds being allocated by Mecklenburg County. The request focused on compensation to improve retention and recruitment to address critical staffing issues the Agency is facing in the wake of the Pandemic. Medic’s request was not approved. While this was not the decision the Agency was hoping for, we remain committed to work with the County Manager’s office to identify alternative strategies that will stabilize our workforce, relieve significant employee fatigue, and ensure timely ambulance response to our community.”

Two organizations that provide food and shelter could get ARPA funding from Meck County

(Previous coverage) Channel 9′s Gina Esposito spoke with two groups who said the money would make a huge impact for them.

Each week, volunteers at Loaves and Fishes pack groceries and deliver them directly to people like Carol Wall, who needs food but doesn’t have transportation.

“It takes a burden off of you when you don’t have to worry about what you are going to fix,” Wall said.

Mecklenburg County is considering more than 40 organizations for ARPA money. Loaves and Fishes could get $2.9 million to help expand its grocery store home delivery service. The organization fed more than 15,500 people, many of whom had no other way to get food.

Danielle Moore, the community outreach director with Loaves and Fishes, told Esposito they’d be able to deliver groceries seven days a week instead of three. They’d also be able to offer a free online service, where clients could shop for items through Instacart.

“We believe in that dignified experience, and part of that dignity is providing a choice so this funding is going to help us to do so,” Moore said. “Giving clients the simple choice of choosing canned corn over canned green beans.”

$1.2 million in ARPA funding could also go to Roof Above’s shelter on Statesville Avenue.

Roof Above’s CEO Liz Clasen-Kelly said the shelter is full almost every night. She said current funds are running out, and ARPA money could keep it open an additional two years.

“It’s 118 additional shelter beds in our community and I think what we learned from the North End encampment, we, as a community don’t want to accept seeing people sleeping outside,” Clasen-Kelly said.

The funding for these two groups could potentially help thousands -- helping close the gap on homelessness and removing barriers to healthy food.

(WATCH BELOW: FEMA sends MEDIC more help; EMS agency also partners with ride-share services)

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