The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was passed earlier this year to help communities recover from the wide-ranging economic and health impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. With an infusion of $5.3 billion in direct aid from this package, Massachusetts has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in our communities and address systemic inequities in the social safety net. The most pressing challenges affecting families – including housing affordability, economic stability, and access to childcare and learning opportunities – are deeply connected and interdependent.
Our nonprofit partners have been critical voices on issues like housing, food insecurity and racial and ethnic disparities, early education, and access to learning opportunities. Their deep knowledge of the issues and on-the-ground experience provide valuable insights about what’s needed now, and in the future, to foster strong, resilient communities.
We’re listening. But we’re not stopping there. We’re taking what we’ve heard from our partners and mobilizing our corporate partners and elected officials around a comprehensive vision for an equitable recovery.
Here’s a look at some of the recommendations we’ve shared with the Massachusetts State Legislature and the City of Boston as they develop their plans to invest the ARPA aid in communities across the Commonwealth:
- In 2017, one third of families in Boston did not have access to the childcare they wanted. The pandemic made it worse. We joined with The Boston Foundation and the Boston Opportunity Agenda to call for investment of American Rescue Plan Act funding in ways that will expand the availability of quality childcare and help our city recover from COVID while continuing to build a robust system to support employers, young children and families. Here are the recommendations we submitted to the City of Boston Equitable Recovery Task Force last month.
- Mass211 has emerged as a critical lifeline during the COVID-19 crisis. During the past year, Mass 211 has fielded 491,545 phone calls from residents living in municipalities across the Commonwealth—a 124% increase in call volume compared to the previous year. Importantly, 48% of callers’ requests were directly related to COVID-19, and over 25% of calls were for assistance addressing mental health needs. Other top requests included seeking help accessing the state’s eviction diversion program, emergency shelter, early education and afterschool care, and utility payment assistance. Read our recommendations for strengthening this vital service even more.
- The Massachusetts State Legislature has held a series of hearings aimed at leading a transparent, community-driven process to solicit ideas on leveraging federal dollars to advance an equitable recovery. Here’s how we’ve weighed in on issues such as relief for the nonprofit sector, early education, housing and homelessness, expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the mental health needs of children and youth.
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