Olmsted County approves use of $20 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds

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(ABC 6 News) – Olmsted County has approved a plan to spend $19,960,000 of the Federal American Rescue Plan Act.

$16.1 million of the funds will support affordable housing infrastructure and programs including:

  • The county’s portion ($10 million) of the Rochester Area Foundation’s request for a five-year investment in affordable housing to create and preserve more than 1,100 affordable housing units in Olmsted County and leverage an investment of more than $200 million. The Foundation’s full proposal is based on a 2020 Maxfield Research housing needs analysis and calls for a $25 million local affordable housing investment to meet the housing needs of Olmsted County for the next decade.
  • A $5 million investment to create affordable homeownership opportunities through a new program to be developed by Olmsted County. The new program will incentivize the addition to the affordable housing stock in the county.
  • Purchase of the building at 105 Broadway Avenue N. in Rochester to continue providing transitional housing to homeless individuals. The $1 million allocations will cover about half of the anticipated purchase cost. Housing and Redevelopment Authority reserves will fund the remainder.
  • Repairs to the Rochester Community Warming Center totaling $100,000. This facility is owned by Olmsted County and operated by Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota.

The remaining $3.9 million will fund various other Olmsted County priorities based on internal needs, these include:

  • A proposal from Workforce Development, Inc. to support developing pathways to careers in local government totaling $420,000. This program development has been underway for several years but has lacked consistent funding. It will provide job training and support for individuals interested in positions in local government that have traditionally been hard to fill.
  • A trained social worker liaison from the county to work with all the school districts in Olmsted County for truancy prevention. This is a one-year provisional FTE for $120,000. This need was supported by recent data from a COVID-19 impact survey sent countywide and through discussions with school partners regarding truancy and mental health concerns for children in K-12 schools.
  • Funding of $1.2 million to complete the new nature center at Oxbow Park. The Oxbow Park nature center project cost is approximately $7.5 million and has already received $2.33 million from the state’s Parks and Trails Legacy Fund. Olmsted County had previously committed to investing $3.5 million.
  • Chester Heights Sewer District funding of $500,000 for key upgrades and improvements.
  • Technology projects within Health, Housing, and Human Services at the county that will support interoperability, automation, conversion of paper to electronic processes, and access to data and ease of use for clients. These projects total $1 million.
  • Additional hours totaling $120,000 for school nurses to prepare for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year after being deployed to the pandemic for 18 months.
  • Provisional staffing for the County Attorney’s Office totaling $500,000 to assist with the backlog of court cases in the system.

The remaining almost $11 million of the county’s total award of almost $31 million will be reviewed and allocated in the spring of 2022.