Nearly $130 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds will flow to Seattle residents, programs and businesses under a spending plan approved Monday by the City Council.
Nearly all of the money will come from the American Rescue Plan Act that President Biden signed in March with $12 million more coming from another federal source. Monday’s vote was 9-0.
“This is our chance to build back better and to build back more equitably,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said.
Mayor Jenny Durkan worked with council leaders last month to draft the plan, and the council made minor adjustments. For example, the council earmarked some economic recovery funds for arts institutions and reserved a greater share of business-district grants for neighborhoods outside downtown.
Durkan will sign the spending legislation.
“Just as Seattle has led the nation in testing and vaccinations, I believe Seattle can lead the nation in building back,” she said in a statement.
Seattle’s plan allocates:
- $49 million for housing and homelessness efforts, including property acquisition, tiny homes, encampment outreach and vehicle safe lots
- $25 million for cash assistance to Seattle households impacted by the pandemic
- $23 million for economic recovery, including grants for small businesses
- $17 million for other supports, including child care worker wage supplements
- $14 million for city operations, including opening wading pools at parks
Durkan and the council chose to spread the federal funds across many efforts. In each case, the dollars will be targeted at people disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, including Black, Indigenous and Latino people.
Mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell has criticized the approach, arguing most of the money should be used to deal with homelessness. Housing and homelessness will receive more funds than any other area, the mayor and council countered.
They said Seattle’s plan will complement King County’s spending. The County Council approved $631 million in relief spending last month, dedicating large sums to rental assistance and behavioral health.
Monday’s vote stirred little controversy at City Hall, in contrast to budget battles last year. This time, Durkan and the council built consensus, City Council President and mayoral candidate M. Lorena González said.
Seattle will receive a second, $116 million tranche from the American Rescue Plan Act for spending in 2022.