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Posted on: March 3, 2022

Board of Commissioners Passes $11 Million Package to Invest in Community Health and Wellbeing

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Washtenaw County, MI – Last night, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a series of investments using funds from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation. This is the second package of investments approved by the Board using these dollars. Learn more about the first package passed in September 2021 here. The current package includes three components that all aim to encourage generational success by investing in our community’s health and wellbeing.  

The first component is the Mobile Services Support Initiative (MSSI). This new county program, operated by the Racial Equity Office, will leverage two buses donated by The Ride to bring resources and services into under-resourced communities where transportation can be a key barrier. After hiring staff to manage the program and retrofitting the buses to be tailored for service delivery, the mobile units will be out in the community regularly. They will coordinate with community partners and county departments to bring programs and services to residents who may otherwise not be able to access them.  

"The MSSI will support access to services in Washtenaw County,” said Caroline Sanders, Commissioner for District 4, a staunch advocate for the initiative who initially developed the idea before becoming a commissioner. “We have so many incredible service providers in our county, and not being able to leave your home because you don’t have transportation or have children to care for should not get in the way of accessing those supports.”  

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The second component of the funding package is a series of investments designed to build a strong, equity driven Washtenaw County Health Department. It will include hiring additional community health workers and public health nurses, expanding mobile services, improving accessibility at the health department building, and more.  

“Our Health Department has been working non-stop for over two-years to respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This is our opportunity as a Board to continue supporting that response,” said Katie Scott, Commissioner for District 9 and the liaison to the Board of Health. “This investment will also give the Health Department the tools needed to begin addressing some of the longstanding social determinants of health that have contributed to the disparate pandemic impact felt by our vulnerable communities. Doing so can help promote health equity, which must be central to all of our American Rescue Plan Act investments.” 

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The final and largest component of the most recent investment using American Rescue Plan Act funding is the Community Priority Fund (CPF). The fund will invest nearly $8 million dollars into zip codes with high social vulnerability to fund community organizations working across a number of ARPA-eligible areas. More information on the CPF, including the application process, can be found here

"After passing the first Washtenaw Rescue Plan package, we heard loud and clear that additional, targeted investment was needed, especially on the east side of our county,” said Sue Shink, Chair of the Board of Commissioners and Commissioner for District 2. “Our goal is to really get dollars in the hands of people and organizations who serve those areas.” 

Included in the $8 million CPF investment is support for evaluation of all ARPA related investments. A Data and Evaluation Manager will be hired to work with county staff and contracted agencies to ensure the county’s Rescue Plan expenditures maintain compliance with federal ARPA requirements and guidelines. 

“Learning what works and what doesn’t is critical when it comes to assessing the impact of these investments in our community and will help us make better decisions moving forward,” said Justin Hodge, Chair of Working Session and Commissioner for District 5. “By funding evaluation in this proposal, we can help smaller organizations in our community build the capacity to be able to report on outcomes and impact, which will help them now and in the future.” 

“Our team listened to residents, worked thoughtfully and brought forth a package that the Board is pleased with; one that we believe will make a significant impact in the community,” said Gregory Dill, Washtenaw County Administrator. “We look forward to working with partners, staff, and commissioners to operationalize this for the good of the county." 

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