Very little of Haverhill’s $37.4 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act money has been allocated, but a full spending plan is expected within the next month.
The Haverhill City Council Tuesday asked specifically about $500,000 to be earmarked for local nonprofits to help with youth activities, mental health services and substance abuse. The amount was part of a budget compromise negotiated in June between Council President Melinda E. Barrett and Mayor James J. Fiorentini. Community Development Director Andrew K. Herlihy told the Council distribution of COVID-19 relief money is intentionally slow. He explained the city seeks to proceed methodically this time after the frenzied distribution of CARES Act money last year.
“We are in receipt of ARPA funding. We’re being very deliberate about it. We’re committed to doing this. We’re committed to doing this in this fiscal year and we’re going to pick up the pace to do it more quickly,” he explained.
Herlihy said $500,000 of the money is already being used to put in new sidewalks in Walnut Square, but most of it has not yet been distributed. He did say he has been in touch with a number of local nonprofits, however, including Leaving the Streets Ministry, UTEC, MakeIT Haverhill and AmVets.
He told councilors he would be back with a plan for the allocation of remaining money within the next two to four weeks.
The federal government enacted the American Rescue Plan this spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.