Omaha and Douglas County have spent only $45 million ARPA money from the federal government, $65 million yet to be spent
OMAHA, Nebraska — In spite of the fact that Douglas County has been granted more than $100 million by the federal government, more than half of that amount, around $65 million, has not been spent as of yet.
This is due to the fact that the commissioners have made the construction of a mental health center a top priority. In the moment, people typically have an option between going to jail or staying at the Douglas County Health Center, which also functions as a senior living home.
“That we have a mental health facility that is not embedded within our Douglas County nursing home where people reside and call it home,” said County Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson.
It is unknown how much the facility will cost, but estimates put the figure somewhere around $50 million. Along with paying bills and replacing county infrastructure, mental health was one of the two priorities the county planned to spend the money on. The other priority was replacing county infrastructure.
But moreover, each commissioner was given $2.5 million to spend on projects located in their respective districts.
“Each commissioner knows their district the best,” said Borgeson.
With that money, the county has helped develop programs to support restaurants and small businesses, spent money on food and medical care, and will provide money to help revitalize the old Yates school building. All of these things are important to the community.
Regarding the City of Omaha, roughly ten million dollars will be allocated to increase the premium pay for city employees, in addition to the ten million dollars that was allocated to affordable housing.
However, they were also helpful to local charitable organizations, donating almost half a million dollars to the Completely Kids organization. Children who participate in the after-school program that will benefit from this funding will receive food and access to mental health services.
“All these things disproportionately impact kids of color and that’s the group of kids that Completely Kids serves, so we want to make sure we’re ready to address that and help fill in those gaps,” said Ann Lawless, chief programs officer at Completely Kids.
YouTurn, a non-profit organization that works to prevent violence, received an increased donation from Omaha.
“We are looking at getting into the middle schools,” said YouTurn Executive Director Teresa Negron.
The organization now operates out of Omaha high schools, and it intends to utilize the money from the pot to introduce a curriculum that is based on evidence to Omaha middle schools.
“The conflict is going to be there, but (what) we hope to do is teach conflict resolution without resorting to any type of violence at all,” said Negron.
The amount awarded to Sarpy County was $65 million. To this point, it has been used for the construction of their new jail as well as for the expansion of the county’s sewer systems. On Tuesday, a vote will be held to spend approximately ten million dollars extra from the ARPA.
For a full overview of the Omaha ARPA plan: cityofomaha.org/images/pdf/2022_City_of_Omaha_Recovery_Plan.pdf
For a full overview of what Douglas County has spent ARPA dollars on: douglascounty-ne.gov/covid-19-informations/arpa/douglas-county-awards