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That coronavirus money is expected to be used for housing stability issues and more

PMG FILE PHOTO - The city will soon receive $7.5 million in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, money it hopes to use for housing stability, small business aid and more.Tigard is set to receive almost $7.5 million from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, money that could address city issues such as ensuring housing stability and helping out small businesses.

Tigard City Manager Steve Rymer said the city has had high-level conversations about the best place to invest the money.

"The key is really kind of building off the almost $6 million, about $5.9 million, that the City Council's invested to date," said Rymer. "So, obviously housing stability, supporting our community — both individuals and families — economic stability for our small businesses, are all key things we want to do."

He said the city also wants to look at infrastructure projects such as city parks, trail systems and sidewalks as well as focusing on city sidewalks, the goal being to enhance access to those who haven't had great access to such infrastructure in the past.

"The intention with the American Rescue Plan is that it kind of encourages long term recovery efforts for folks … and businesses who have experienced negative impacts from the pandemic," said Nicole Hendrix, a senior management analyst for Tigard. "That's the primary goal with the funds."

Still, Rymer said it's a little too early to name specific projects. And while any amount of federal funding is beneficial, Rymer said equity and safety are expensive issues to address.

"You know $7.5 million doesn't go that far when you're looking at infrastructure projects," he said. "It's obviously going to assist our community and that's why, looking at some of the support, like we said about our for small businesses and families, and community members in need, you know they'll be an important part of this."

At the same time, Hendrix said Tigard is working with both state representatives and Washington County officials to address issues like homelessness.

"That takes a lot of funding, right? We want to be coordinated and be able to kind of work with one another to leverage the funding that we do get to have that greater impact," Hendrix said, adding that the city is working closely with the office of state Rep. Dacia Grayber, who represents House District 35, which includes Tigard.

While the federal money is earmarked for cities of 50,000 residents and more, cities under that number will also receive some of that money through the state, Hendrix said. U.S. Census data shows Tigard with an estimated population of 55,514 as of July 1, 2019, making it the 12th largest city in the state.

Rymer said federal CARES funding was helpful, but while some communities didn't see significant changes in their revenues, Tigard had a reduction in many areas, specifically when it comes to utilities, saying it was because of reductions the city implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, a supporter of the American Rescue Plan Act, said she was pleased to help pass the $350 billion in funding for state and local governments, including $4.2 billion for Oregon.

"This federal funding will help cities like Tigard take measures to reduce the spread of COVID, support families and businesses who are still struggling, and achieve other community priorities," Bonamici said.


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