Using Federal Funds to Create More Just Communities in North Carolina

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provided local governments with an opportunity to invest in a just recovery that will ensure our communities are better off than we were before by addressing our most pressing needs and making concrete investments in public infrastructure that can build equity and undo decades of harm and disenfranchisement. The monumental influx of federal funding made it possible for those governments to invest in programs to advance economic and racial justice. Local elected officials across the country have been ensuring that this historic federal funding directly supports communities and residents hardest hit by the pandemic and decades of disinvestment before that.


Local Progress North Carolina members have been leading the way in implementing ARPA funds to improve housing, community safety, transit, and more. In Guilford County, Local Progress member Carly Cooke and the rest of the Board of Commissioners allocated its $104,339,752 in ARPA funds towards programs that invest in community like mental health resources, youth programming, and access to health care. Chapel Hill Town Council and Local Progress member Eliazar Posada recently designated their remaining ARPA funds to invest in a skate park replacement, greenway design and a bikeshare program. And in Durham, Local Progress Board Co-Chair Jillian Johnson and the rest of the City Council earmarked around 20% of their ARPA funds to build 436 new affordable housing units. Across the state, Local Progress members have used this historic opportunity to invest in programs that serve people, in vibrant community and cultural spaces, and in a more just society.


Building on that work, last week Local Progress and the North Carolina Black Alliance brought local elected officials from across North Carolina together to assess their progress in implementing ARPA so far and to look towards future ways their localities can take advantage of federal funding. Members brainstormed ways to leverage federal funding to try to address their local housing needs and connected with statewide partners across different issues. They shared resources, like violence prevention programs, with each other and strategized around next steps once ARPA funds are fully allocated. 


With $8.4 billion of the $350 billion ARPA funds provided to North Carolina now allocated to different programs, Local Progress North Carolina members also discussed the Inflation Reduction Act and other ways to utilize historic federal funding to build equity. Looking forward, members committed to using federal funds to create more affordable rental units for lower-income residents in their communities and to supporting real safety by funding mental health responders. 


Local Progress members across the state and across the country have been creating transformational change for their communities. Local Progress is working to support members in using their ARPA funds before the deadline and taking advantage of opportunities at the federal level as they come in. Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming federal implementation memo!