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Shaping Housing & Digital Access with American Rescue Plan Funds

How targeting ARPA funds can increase housing stability and enhance digital inclusion in your community.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARP or ARPA) was created to fund equitable economic recovery efforts and aims to reduce child poverty in the United States. The success of the ARPA requires that leaders operating at all levels of government understand the needs of residents and businesses, allocate relief equitably, and demonstrate progress. 

This money is an opportunity to invest in your community that hasn’t come around in a long while. Spending equitably and intelligently can make long-lasting changes in your community.

There is so much to do, how do I know what to do first?
Each and every community is different and has varying needs and priorities. How communities choose to respond to this deployment of dollars depends on what each of them may be struggling with. Where exactly to start can feel overwhelming, but there are data indicators that can give you a starting place to prioritizing your community's needs and actions.

The themes that appear through the ARPA literature are to:

  1. Increase Housing Stability
  2. Improve Digital Access
  3. Increase Access to Healthy Food
  4. Reduce Child Poverty

As your community needs may differ, hyper-local community data will support your teams as they work to identify where to spend money and earn approval for any new programs they create. When deciding how to analyze and address your community's needs, you can use the following guidelines to make decisions with an accurate, comprehensive view of data available to you.

  • Bring together multiple datasets across different sources
    • Different sources like HUD, NHPD, and the Census provide relevant data.
  • Prioritize specific regions
    • Focus on local neighborhoods and areas with the highest needs.
  • Measure baselines and set goals
    • Gain a clear picture of the reality, and measure the path ahead.
  • Report with the most up-to-date data
    • Make sure you use current, reliable data to make accurate decisions.
To illustrate how you can use data to move from concepts and ideas into a path forward, let's take a look at increasing housing stability and improving digital access.

American Rescue Plan Funds for Housing Stability

Housing stability is a struggle for families and households in neighborhoods all over the United States. Preserving affordable housing stock is a great first step to providing accessible housing to people in communities all over, even in your own local neighborhoods. Local affordable housing inventory is often largely made possible thanks to temporary incentives and funding that federal, state, and local governments give developers to ensure affordable rent.

It might make sense for your community to use temporary ARP funds to keep those programs going, but long-term stability requires a long-term commitment. Any little way you can use this money to implement policies that promote long-term affordability is going to improve housing stability in your area over many years.

Using Guides in mySidewalk Seek to select affordable housing related indicators.
Selecting HUD indicators in mySidewalk Seek. Sign-up for a trial.

Where do I find affordable housing data?

When looking at your community's affordable housing conditions and gaining a deeper understanding of those most affected, sources to start with include the Census and information from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Picture of Subsidized Households.

These indicators can help local affordable housing advocates and planners understand their affordable housing stock, assess preservation risks in their communities, and spark ideas to enhance local housing preservation efforts.

At the center of helping find affordable housing solutions are the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC). Their research, data collection, and advocacy have helped communities understand and preserve affordable housing stock across the country.

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Selecting NHPD indicators in mySidewalk Seek. Sign-up for a trial.

The National Housing Preservation Database (NHPD), created and maintained by PAHRC and NLIHC, is the only deduplicated list of federally assisted rental housing in the US. It provides thousands of people access to the best understanding of affordable housing and has been made more accessible than ever for your city, town, zip code, neighborhood, census tract, and more through mySidewalk's partnership with NLIHC and PAHRC.

Read about how NLIHC and PAHRC are using mySidewalk to help communities preserve affordable housing.

American Rescue Plan Broadband Funding

Broadband infrastructure investment is explicitly called out in ARPA as a way to provide “universally available, high-speed, reliable, and affordable broadband coverage…” and communities are encouraged to supply residents with the means to access at least 100 mbps download speed and a scaling upload speeds that can reach 100 mbps.

The FCC is a good data source where you can obtain average speeds for your region and you can use that data to understand which census tracts or neighborhoods need broadband infrastructure investments. You also might be interested in comparing Median Income and Race/Ethnicity Population numbers for the areas where you have low speed. This can help ensure that the programs are equitable and targeted to the areas that need them most.

digiinclusion
Digital inclusion indicators in mySidewalk Seek, and a map in mySidewalk Chart.

Data is a new requirement in this world and communities all across the country are digging in to see what they can do to improve the quality of life for their residents. Leaders need to baseline data values for programs, set goals, and report on improvements over time.

Find the data you need today.

Here at mySidewalk, we exist to empower the changemakers doing important work to improve communities everywhere. To help you target your community’s specific needs, we're offering a limited-time free trial of Seek, our data access tool, so you can skip the data science and get right to the data. We've curated billions of data points to deliver accurate, local, and specific information to you without the traditional nonsense of downloading, cleaning and cross-checking. Plus, we made it easy to search all that data for what you need and export it to wherever you need it.

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Target your ARPA funds.

We've created an ARPA Guide in Seek that will suggest data indicators as a way to assist you in identifying and targeting your community’s needs when spending funds. Look for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Guide on the home tab to start exploring!

Your community’s ARPA-related needs will vary, so make sure to look for additional sources and resources as you move forward. The Guide in Seek is a starting point as you work to measure, rebuild, and report on the progress of your community’s recovery efforts.**

Find My Community's DataSign-up for a no-risk trial of Seek.
**You can apply for funds from ARPA to pay for mySidewalk Seek licenses.

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