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Las Vegas received $130M in pandemic aid, but requests surpass $2B

Updated September 8, 2021 - 4:02 pm

Las Vegas received more than $2 billion in requests for American Rescue Plan funds, far exceeding the $130 million in federal pandemic aid allocated to the city to distribute to the community.

The wide disparity between the demand and available resources underscores that community needs remain sky high nearly two years into the public health crisis.

“There’s going to be continual need,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said Sept. 1 as city lawmakers were presented with the city’s preliminary plan for spending its share of funds, the latest federal aid to be delivered to governments across the U.S.

Las Vegas received 581 pre-applications for projects totaling more than $2.2 billion from nonprofits, businesses and city departments, according to City Manager Jorge Cervantes.

“That is a hell of a gap,” Councilman Stavros Anthony said.

Nonprofits accounted for more than half of all project requests to the tune of $1.9 billion, according to the city, and nonprofits may receive the largest share of initial funding.

Under the city’s local recovery plan, which details early intentions for spending $65 million of the funds — the city will receive the other tranche of $65 million next year — nonprofits would receive some $26 million to use toward efforts such as workforce development, addressing homelessness, early education and health care.

The remainder, about $39 million, would be evenly split between affordable housing, business support and public pandemic response including vaccination and testing, the plan shows.

City officials will review all applications it received by the Aug. 13 deadline to determine which ones meet the U.S. treasury’s statutory requirements, city priorities and community needs, among other factors. Cervantes said officials will return to the council in December to seek approval on funding specific projects and programs.

Not all spending will need to wait: The city already provided $600,000 to Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, which has been assisting people facing evictions.

Survey says affordable housing top priority

Officials met with residents and nonprofits and attended Clark County town halls on American Rescue Plan funds over the summer, according to Cervantes. The city also received more than 500 resident responses to an online survey inquiring how the money should be spent.

Most respondents (32 percent) wished to use funds on affordable housing, such as converting city-owned land to housing or rehabilitating existing apartment buildings. Respondents also favored providing assistance to businesses and nonprofits and urged the city to boost mental health services.

The city has five years to spend all $130 million but Councilman Brian Knudsen said it will be key to distribute the dollars as quickly as possible. Cervantes also noted that the U.S. Treasury Department did not want governments to simply sit on the money.

The $130 million allocation is slightly more than the federal aid the city received last year through the CARES Act. To the ire of some state lawmakers, Las Vegas spent the vast majority of its $119 million allotment on public safety payroll, including $1.7 million in bonuses to firefighter union members as hazard pay.

Clark County submitted its preliminary plan last month for spending the $440 million it was allocated in American Rescue Plan funds, focusing heavily on supporting housing and public health. The state received $2.7 billion.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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