Mayor Sarno Highlights ARPA Accomplishments, Celebrating One Year of Success
Springfield, MA – Mayor Domenic J. Sarno highlighted the City of Springfield’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) accomplishments and celebrated the many success stories on the one-year anniversary since the program was established in the city with the creation of the Department of Recovery and Business Continuity (DRBC). This Department oversees all aspects of the city of Springfield’s local ARPA process, including the intake and reviewing of applications and materials to assure that all federal rules and guidelines are adhered to for federal compliance purposes so that only eligible Springfield applicants are awarded.
Of note, no other city or town in the Commonwealth is doing what Springfield has done to get funding out to eligible businesses, nonprofits, and residents.
In August 2021, Mayor Sarno created the Department of Recovery and Business Continuity, under the Office of Administration and Finance, to serve as a centralized point of operation where all ARPA funding and applications will go through to be reviewed, committed, and awarded. The Department of Recovery and Business Continuity is tasked with the objective of effectively, efficiently, and equitably administering ARPA funds within the city of Springfield for all eligible use categories, as determined by the United States Department of the Treasury, first through its Interim Final Rule that was published on May 17, 2021, and later its Final Rule that was published on January 27, 2022.
DRBC is responsible for utilizing public input gathered from city residents, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to implement an open and transparent process for ARPA funding to be distributed, so that the maximum benefit is derived for the people of Springfield, in furtherance of the goals and objectives of the federal Act.
In late August 2021, Mayor Sarno and city officials including Chief Administrative and Finance Officer (CAFO) TJ Plante, Chief Development Officer (CDO) Tim Sheehan, Director of Technical Assistance and Compliance Patrice ‘Chae’ Swan, Budget Analysis Saumajit ‘Sam’ Saha, and Attorney Tom Moore who served as the Director of Recovery and Business Continuity at the time, began holding a series of citywide ARPA listening sessions to hear directly from our neighborhood councils, nonprofits, small businesses, new businesses, faith-based organizations and other agencies and groups. Over 35 neighborhood listening sessions were held to discuss and listen to their ideas and input on how the city can best utilize local ARPA funding to provide relief and assistance to those in need and to those that were adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those populations and communities that have historically been underserved and adversely impacted by the pandemic.
The ARPA application process was drafted and established shortly after these citywide ARPA listening session concluded and upon reviewing the notes taken from these vital, important, and productive discussions. On October 15, 2021, Mayor Sarno and the city ARPA team announced the posting and opening of local ARPA grant applications under seven categories that were identified and derived from these discussions. They include: Nonprofit Assistance, New Business Assistance, Small Business Assistance, Senior Citizen Assistance, Neighborhood/Household Assistance, Capital Projects/Public Space Improvements, and Job Creation/Economic Development.
Mayor Sarno states, “I want to thank all of those neighborhood and community groups that met with me and my dedicated ARPA team. Their discussions and input were instrumental in finalizing our local ARPA process. I want to commend my dedicated ARPA team for their continued efforts throughout this process. From day one, CAFO TJ Plante and the ARPA team had to adjusted their operations on the fly as we kept in constant communication with the United States Treasury as they changed and amended their rules, regulations, and guidelines on what qualified and what did not qualify under the federal Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF). Although we want to get these monies out ASAP, we need to be prudent and make sure that all of the federal checks and balances are followed so that only Springfield eligible households, nonprofits and businesses are awarded.”
“Although certain individuals have been questioning our deliberate and thorough review process – even suggesting that we ignore and disregard the rules and regulations stated in the Interim and Final Rule from the U.S. Treasury and ‘just hand out checks’, we will respectfully and politely ignore their rhetoric and ill-advised suggestions,” said Mayor Sarno. “Too often we have seen and heard about reports of ARPA fraud and abuse from across the country due to falsified and nonverified applications. Those applications were obviously not properly reviewed, vetted, and verified and as a result those that could have been eligible missed out because of poor administration in their ARPA checks and balances department. We too have seen, caught and denied applications that were obviously not from or for our Springfield – we will remain vigilant and thorough through our ARPA application process and thank our residents and businesses for their continued patience and understanding. We have also faced the nationwide issues and challenges of filling vacancies with qualified applicants.”
“My administration will remain vigilant and true and will continue to do our due diligence to make sure that only eligible Springfield households and applicants are awarded. It is irresponsible for those certain individuals to demand that we simply hand out checks without proof of verification, especially when they would not be held responsible for any consequences from their ‘suggestions’,” Mayor Sarno added. “Again, our dedicated ARPA team has already denied applications that were not eligible due to residency issues and/or not submitting proof of verification.”
Per the federal rules and regulations, certain applications will only qualify for approval if they are based within a federal Qualified Census Tracts (QCT). Other applications that might be eligible but that are not located within a QCT must meet certain qualifying parameters, per the federal rules and regulations, such as low-income, identify as either minority and/or women owned business, and/or identify the need due to the adverse impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.
To better help and assist residents and businesses with their ARPA application the city ARPA team held a series of community outreach and assistance workshop seminars. On December 7, 2021, Mayor Sarno and the city ARPA team announced three community outreach and assistance seminars and workshops to provide information about the ARPA application process. An in-person seminar and workshop was held on December 15, 2021 at Rebecca Johnson School and a virtual seminar and workshop was held on January 12, 2022. In addition, on April 4, 2022, a Technical Assistance Workshop Seminar was held for seniors at the Raymond Jordan Senior Center.
These community outreach and assistance workshop seminars continue Mayor Sarno’s commitment to providing direct neighborhood input and technical assistance throughout the city.
As communities across the nation and throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including the State Legislature which is currently sitting on over $5 billion of ARPA funding, continue to review and/or have just developed plans to process and distribute their allocation of federal ARPA monies – some with hard caps and limits on what can be awarded and what is eligible, the City of Springfield, through its due diligence, has already committed over $51 million to local nonprofits, small businesses, new businesses, households, seniors, neighborhood councils, and numerous community programs and initiatives that provide relief and assistants to those in need and that promote the economic health and development opportunities for our community.
To date, Mayor Sarno has announced seven (7) rounds of ARPA grant funding to support and provide relief and assistance to Springfield based nonprofits, small businesses, new businesses, economic development and job growth and creation opportunities, households and seniors – with an eighth (8th) round to be announced in the near future. Below is the breakdown of ARPA funding awarded per round:
ARPA Funding (Per Round)
|Eighth Round: TBA||TBA|
|Seventh Round: August 4, 2022||$4.1 million|
|Sixth Round: July 13, 2022||$84,000|
|Fifth Round: May 26, 2022||$4.17 million|
|Fourth Round: April 6, 2022||$5.1 million|
|Third Round: March 29, 2022||$3.3 million|
|Second Round: February 1, 2022||$650,735|
|First Round: December 9, 2021||$254,000|
Of note, nearly all of the city of Springfield’s ARPA grant funding awards for small and new businesses have been designated as either minority and/or women owned businesses or eligible within the QCT. This trend further emphasizes Mayor Sarno’s commitment to providing city ARPA funding relief to minority and women owned businesses that have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In total, 61 ARPA grant-funding awards have been committed to small business, new businesses, and economic development and job creation, with 50 or 82% being identified as minority owned. Below is the year-to-date breakdown.
Year to Date Round (61 ARPA Awards)
|Small Business, New Business, and Eco Dev Job Creation Designation||Number Awarded||% of Total Applications|
“I am proud of my administrations efforts in committing these much-needed ARPA funding awards to those eligible applicants. Our local ARPA awards are going directly where they are most needed and where the federal rules and regulations intended them to go – to eligible Springfield residents, seniors, businesses, nonprofits, and neighborhood councils that will provide relief, assistance, and promote economic development opportunities.,” said Mayor Sarno. “I am also proud that 82% of ARPA grand funding awards to small businesses, new businesses and economic development and job creation have going directly to minority owned businesses that have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In addition, Mayor Sarno has committed ARPA funding to various programs and initiatives that support the economic health and stability of our neighborhoods, businesses, and households.
ARPA Funded Programs
|Build Back Springfield:||$15 million|
|Healthy Homes Rehab and Exterior Repair Programs||$5 million|
|Neighborhood Councils:||$1.8 million|
|Neighborhood Economic Recovery and Relief:||$12 million|
Build Back Springfield
In November 2021, Mayor Sarno, CAFO Plante and CDO Sheehan announced the Build Back Springfield Program that will invest $15 million with a focus on recognizing the economic, environmental, and cultural value of preserving older and locally significant landmark buildings and structures. The city seeks to encourage adaptive reuse plans to revitalize buildings that complements the neighborhood while providing for new economic growth and employment opportunities.
|Business Name||Amount Awarded||Description|
|Honore, LLC||$2.4 million||Redevelopment of multi-building at 250-278 Worthington Street|
|Indian Orchard Citizens Council / City||$1.5 million||ES Oak Street (Indian Orchard)|
Healthy Homes Rehab and Exterior Repair Programs
On May 27, 2022, Mayor Sarno and CDO Sheehan announced $5 million in ARPA funding for the Healthy Homes Rehabilitation and Exterior Repair Programs through the Office of Housing and Disaster Recovery.
The Healthy Homes Program provides funding for homeowners in Qualified Census Tracts (QCT) to rehabilitate their home and address health issues in their housing, including lead paint and asthma triggers. The program is for residential properties with 1-4 units.
The Exterior Home Repair Program provides homeowners with up to $40,000 to fund exterior home repairs, including roofs, windows, porches, siding, and painting for residences with 1-4 units. The program is available citywide.
Both programs provide a 0% interest deferred-payment loan, forgiven over five years if the owner continues to occupy the home as their principal residence. One-fifth of the loan is forgiven each year.
In April 2022, as part of the Fourth Round of ARPA award announcements, Mayor Sarno announced that his administration would be committing $1.8 million or approximately $100,000 to each of the city’s neighborhood councils for specific and qualifying neighborhood initiatives and projects.
Mayor Sarno stated, “Our neighborhood councils serve as a lifeline and direct point of contact and voice for our residents and neighborhood businesses and my administration is looking forward to working directly with them as we continue to work together to enhance our community.”
Neighborhood Economic Recovery and Relief
In February 2022, Mayor Sarno, CAFO TJ Plante and CDO Tim Sheehan announced the $12 million investment into the Neighborhood Economic Recovery and Relief fund. The program will help to ensure that neighborhood businesses and institutions, which are at the core of neighborhood life, have the resources to not simply recover from the impacts of the pandemic but to work together with the city towards ensuring our neighborhood centers and the surrounding area include sufficient amenities for residents and the business community to flourish with a focus on disproportionately impacted communities, equity and inclusion.
To date, below are those awards under the Neighborhood Economic Recovery and Relief program.
Neighborhood Economic Recovery and Relief
|Business Name||Amount Awarded||Description|
|New North Citizens Council||$839,303||North End Capital Improvements|
|South End Citizens Council||$241,704||South End Capital Improvements|
|Indian Orchard Citizen’s Council||$288,400||Indian Orchard Capital Improvements|
|Mattoon Street Historic Preservation Association||$28,200||Mattoon Street Area Safety Improvements|
|Hickory Street Harambee, Inc.||$50,000||Harambee Festival|
|Blues to Green Inc.||$50,000||Jazz & Roots Festival|
|OPED||$389,303||Admin Cost Request|
|AC Produce||$215,000||Façade Improvements|
|Pioneer Valley Planning Commission||$746,310||Neighborhood Plans / Data Atlas|
|New North Community Center||$2.5 million||Barbara Rivera Community Center|
|Big Y Downtown Market||$1 million||Downtown Tower Square Market|
Mayor Sarno states, “Sustaining and enhancing our successful community and neighborhood initiatives that promote economic growth, beautification and neighborhood enhancements are a hallmark of my administration. I am proud of my administration’s efforts in supporting these endeavors as we work together to move our Springfield forward and reinvigorate the economic renaissance we were building upon before the pandemic.”
Direct Cash Assistance to Households and Seniors
Furthermore, in July 2022, Mayor Sarno and the ARPA team announced the initial round of direct cash assistance for households. $1,400 in direct cash assistance for Springfield households, the most that can be awarded per the federal ARPA guidelines, provides much-needed relief for eligible residents. To date, over 8,000 applications have been submitted for review with 293 applications having been awarded totaling $410,200.
Direct Cash Assistance to Households and Seniors
(Located within QCT or designated low-income)
|Household and Senior Applications||Amount Awarded|
Mayor Sarno stated, “The response has been overwhelming and positive and I am eager to get those eligible applications approved ASAP. However, and again, I want to make sure that only Springfield eligible applications are awarded. We have already denied applications from non-Springfield residents and even out-of-state individuals who think this is a federal stimulus check – it is not. This direct cash assistance is for eligible Springfield residents only and my dedicated ARPA team will continue to do their due diligence to make sure that all applications are properly reviewed and vetted. I want to thank all those who have applied for their continued patience and understanding and we carefully and thoroughly review their applications and follow up with them, if needed. We have been inundated with an overwhelming response but we will continue to review, process and award those eligible households and senior APRA applications as fast as we can.”
In addition to the city of Springfield’s ARPA allocation and commitment, Mayor Sarno had utilized the city of Springfield’s federal CARES Act funding to provide much-needed relief and assistance during the onset and most challenging days during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In June, 2020, Mayor Sarno, Congressman Richard E. Neal and CDO Tim Sheehan announced a partnership with WayFinders to provide an initial $2 million in funding for Springfield renters and homeowners who were struggling during the pandemic. The grant program would pay up to three months’ rent, mortgage, and utility charges for low- and moderate-income Springfield residents whose income has been adversely impacted by the pandemic.
Due to the high demand for relief and assistance as the pandemic continued, Mayor Sarno committed additional funding to support WayFinders grant program for Springfield residents to help with overdue rent, mortgages, and utility bills, bringing the total allocated to WayFinders to approximately $3 million.
Additionally, to further provide much-needed relief and assistance for local restaurants and small businesses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Sarno announced a series of ‘Prime the Pump’ grant funding to keep businesses open and save jobs.
In March 2020, Mayor Sarno and CDO Tim Sheehan announced the first of four ‘Prime the Pump’ grant announcements for restaurants that were adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, Mayor Sarno committed approximately $1.5 million through four rounds of Prime the Pump funding to support and provide relief and assistance. Below is the breakdown of funding per round.
Four Rounds of Prime the Pump Funding (Per Round)
|Fourth Round: July 2020||$250,000|
|Third Round: July 2020||$500,000|
|Second Round: April 2020||$500,000|
|First Round: March 2020||$250,000|
Mayor Sarno added, “This is all about that good four-letter word – JOBS! My administration is committed to trying to save, grow and create jobs through these comprehensive programs, initiatives and partnerships.”
“Once again, I would like to encourage our state Legislature to follow our lead and provide much need relief and assistance for our residents, businesses and nonprofits that are hurting and need this funding now, by committing the over $5 billion of ARPA funding the Commonwealth has been allocated. Our city residents and businesses need the support from the Commonwealth,” said Mayor Sarno. “Time is of the essence. Per the federal law, ARPA funding must be committed by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026. People and businesses are hurting. You must be cognizant that with material and supply chain challenges, the escalating costs of doing business and project planning demands – the clock is ticking. The last thing you want to tell your constituents in your districts is that the federal government clawed back the money.”