First round of US bailout funds allocated by Allegheny County Council

The $ 380 million that Allegheny County will receive from the federal government as part of the American rescue plan The law will improve programs that help those who need it most, Allegheny County Councilor DeWitt Walton said on Tuesday.

“These dollars are really starting to address a lot of the challenges we face in our society,” Walton told colleagues as they approved the initial allocations at Tuesday’s county council meeting.

The $ 32.5 million allocated to Allegheny County rental assistance program, $ 10 million for children’s programs and $ 9 million for mental health crisis prevention and response programs are needed investments that will help people, Walton said.

“Developing a plan for these funds is a huge responsibility,” County Director William D. McKain said in a statement. “It was a delicate balance in making sure we are financially responsible while meeting the needs of our community.”

The county will receive $ 380 million, half of which, $ 190 million, has been received this year and an additional $ 190 million which is expected in 2022.

On Tuesday, the council authorized spending for this year. It will approve other allocations in the future, as the money must be committed by December 31, 2024 and spent by December 31, 2026.

The $ 5 million for volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services will provide $ 25,000 each to about 200 county agencies. The money will be distributed after each agency submits a plan for the use of the money.

The money will make up for the financial deficits these departments face due to the decrease in other fundraising efforts like bingos, room rentals and dinners that have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The county will also spend $ 18.25 million for new communications equipment for public safety agencies.

The $ 10 million for the Children’s Fund will help support child care programs in the county, the need for which “has become very evident” during the pandemic, according to a statement from the county.

Mental health crisis prevention and intervention programs will receive $ 9 million. The need for such services also became more evident during the pandemic, as there has been a 50% increase in the number of people needing help, according to the Western Psychiatric Diagnostic Evaluation Center.

The county has seven mobile teams that respond to people in crisis. With the additional funding, the county will be able to add mobile teams to focus on areas with greater needs.

The allowances were approved by the county council without any objection. City Councilor Bethany Hallam abstained as she said she had not received a detailed breakdown of allowances.

Tom Davidson is an editor for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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