February 15, 2022

Here's how Fort Collins plans to use historic federal funding to recover from the pandemic

When they were putting together the Fort Collins Recovery Plan, city staff heard a common message from the community.

“'We're not even ready to talk about recovery. We’re in the middle of the pandemic,’ ” Fort Collins Recovery Manager SeonAh Kendall said, describing the sentiment. "We heard people saying, 'I have to make a choice between my basic needs. Work, being home with my children and my own safety.'"

That message helped shape city leaders’ approach to the Recovery Plan, which will come to Fort Collins City Council for a vote in March. The plan will serve as a North Star for the city’s allocation of about $19.8 million in remaining funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. It could also help guide the city’s pursuit of funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will send millions of dollars to Colorado primarily for roads and bridges, broadband, water systems and wildfire resilience.

The two pieces of federal legislation offer a once-in-a-generation level of funding that will boost the city's mission to emerge from the pandemic as a more vibrant, resilient and inclusive community.

In the coming months, we’ll see the recovery themes influence how the city chooses to use its remaining ARPA funds as staff and Fort Collins City Council create the 2023-24 budget. But staff also want the plan to be about more than just the ARPA dollars, using it as a roadmap for recovery in general. 

? Read Fort Collins' draft recovery plan here.

The recovery themes are:

  • Health: Support communication of public health orders, work to ensure the community's basic needs are met and value both mental and physical health
  • Equity and community resilience: Foster a sense of belonging and community trust, accelerate the city’s Housing Strategic Plan’s vision that “everyone has healthy, stable housing they can afford,” and expand existing partnerships to quickly connect people experiencing homelessness to resources and services
  • Economic recovery: Small businesses, creatives and nonprofits should have the resources they need to thrive, community members should have safe and stable employment and access to affordable child care
  • Environmental resilience: Commit to environmental justice and resilience as reflected in the city's Our Climate Future plan, provide reliable and affordable access to resilient infrastructure, make sure open space and ecosystems are thriving and accessible

By:  Jacy Marmaduke
Source: Coloradoan