ARP: Fergus Falls MN, Advances Revitalization Project

Fergus Falls Mayor Ben Schierer utilized American Rescue Plan funds to advance a key project in the city’s master plan to transform the downtown and riverfront areas. The city leveraged ARPA funds to secure additional private investments for the Downtown Riverfront Improvements Project, which completed its first phase to improve and replace critical infrastructure around the area. With the infusion of ARAP dollars, the city will break ground in spring 2023 on its second phase to revitalize and enhance the public space and access to the river. Mayor Schierer shared that this $5.2 million project would not be possible without the $713,000 in ARAP funds, which helped build out the scope of the transformation, which will result in increased pedestrian and bicycle access, provide more recreational spaces (including a community splash pad), and tie together with other projects to improve downtown Fergus Falls. Mayor Schierer views this effort as an investment in the next generation, stating it shows “a commitment to the next generation and an investment and a belief in what we might be.”

ARP: Pittsburgh PA, Uses Federal Funds to Replace Lead Pipes

City Councilperson Erika Strassburger, who also serves as the Vice Chair of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s (PWSA) Board of Directors, helped steer American Rescue Plan dollars to lead line replacement efforts, including adding $18 million to the city’s effort to replace every lead water line. She also secured $2 million in ARP funds to implement her Lead Safety Bill, which will help advance efforts to achieve equity in healthy housing, set new citywide standards for lead inspection, and create safe environments for children and families. Already, city inspectors have performed lead dust wipe inspections on over 15 city facilities open to children, and in February 2023, PWSA reached a milestone by replacing its 10,000th line.

ARP: Michigan Invests $83 Million in Affordable Housing Developments

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist announced $83.8 million in grant funding from the Revitalization and Placemaking Program (RAP) for 22 statewide affordable housing and community development projects. The Michigan Strategic Fund provided $100 million in American Rescue Plan dollars to RAP, which supports infrastructure, housing, and revitalization investments across every region in the state. Eligible projects will promote population and tax revenue growth to address negative economic impacts of COVID-19 in downtowns, social zones and public spaces.

ARP: Louisville KY, Invests in Families

Mayor Greg Fischer announced that Louisville will spend $87.4 million of ARP funding to invest in childcare, parks, pools, and public health. The city will also fund improvements to the library system, including by opening up two new branches. Fischer believes that the investments will benefit every part of the community, especially those most in need of support.


Zeb Smathers, Mayor (Canton, NC)

Federal Funds Help Shape the Hometown of Tomorrow

This week, the Canton, NC governing board, led by NewDEAL Leader Mayor Zeb Smathers, met to map the town’s recovery from a devastating flood last year that wreaked havoc on homes and businesses, using this moment of tragedy as a catalyst for more transformative change. Mayor Smathers is now considering multiple federal funding streams that have the potential to transform his town and ensure it embodies, as Smathers puts it, “the hometown of tomorrow.” For example, the governing board is considering selling riverfront land to FEMA as part of the agency’s buyout program. The land, if sold, could be turned into a park system for residents. Other rebuilding projects include an all-abilities playground, a dog park, and an aquatics center. Read this article for more on how Canton is turning tragedy into opportunity, and listen to our recent podcast interview with Mayor Smathers to hear him discuss the flood and how his town is building back.


Raul Campillo, Councilmember (San Diego, CA)

Connecting Seniors to Affordable Transportation

Recently, San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo announced the launch of the FACT pilot program, or Facilitating Access to Coordinated Transportation, in coordination with local community groups. The program will subsidize rides for seniors who do not have access to cars, allowing them to get basic needs like groceries and medical prescriptions, with charges of $2.50 for rides shorter than 5 miles and $10 dollars for rides longer than 20.1 miles. Read more info about the program, which local senior centers praised as a great improvement to the quality of life for seniors in the community.


Brooke Lierman, Delegate (Baltimore, MD), Michael Naft, County Commissioner (Clark County, NV), and Michelle Wu, Mayor (Boston, MA)

New Infrastructure Plans Rolling Out

Following the signing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, NewDEALers are poised to lead in directing investments to long-overdue projects that will impact the economic vitality of their communities. Many NewDEAL Leaders are already taking action on these priorities. Delegate Brooke Lierman’s Maryland Transit Safety & Investment Act overcame a gubernatorial veto and is set to eliminate the state’s $2 billion public transportation maintenance backlog by spending nearly half a billion dollars each year for repairs and enhancements. In Nevada, Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft celebrated the groundbreaking of a long-awaited bridge project which first received federal funding in the 1990s. “This bridge is an important transportation element and it is also critical for emergency responders,” Naft said. Elsewhere, the Boston Council approved newly-elected Mayor Michelle Wu’s $8 million plan for three of the city’s bus lines to go fare-free, an important step towards making the city’s transportation equitable and accessible. The program will utilize federal funding, and early numbers suggest that ridership will be significantly boosted by the measure.


2021 Ideas Challenge Finalists

The NewDEAL is pleased to announce the finalists from this year’s Ideas Challenge, our biennial policy competition highlighting innovative policy solutions from NewDEAL Leaders across the nation. Their ideas would reimagine the social safety net, create good jobs, expand education opportunities, build more sustainable communities, and strengthen our democracy. This year’s Challenge came at an especially important time to identify best practices, as Leaders grapple with the work of rebuilding and recovery in the wake of the pandemic, and have a unique opportunity to act with federal funds from the American Rescue Plan. Winners in each of five categories will be announced next week during our 11th Annual Leaders Conference, on Thursday, November 18, and be featured in Governing Magazine. Join us on social media to celebrate these extraordinary ideas, and click here to read details on the finalists in all five categories!


ALOHA Homes: Affordable, Locally Owned Homes for All

What’s the Problem?

My father, an immigrant from China, worked one state job.  He was able to buy a house, put my brother and me through private school, put me through private college and graduate school, buy investment property, and retire comfortably.

Since then, Hawaii has developed a severe housing shortage.  About 11,000 students graduate annually from Hawaii public schools.  Only 2,000 homes are built annually.  Because of this structural undersupply, the median home price in three of the four counties now exceeds $1 million, and the state has lost population for 4 straight years.  Hawaii has the country’s highest percentage of people working multiple jobs and both parents working.  For young people today, it is no longer possible to buy a home, provide for one’s family, and enjoy retirement.  The housing shortage is the principal obstacle to fulfilling the basic progressive promise, “One job should be enough.”


What’s the Solution?

Singapore is an island less than half the size of Oahu, but with over five times the population.  It houses over 80 percent of its population in high quality, well maintained public housing that is available to all citizens for only $180,000 on average for a new three bedroom unit.  Even the President of Singapore lived in public housing before moving into the Presidential Palace.

ALOHA Homes (Affordable, Locally Owned Homes for All) adapts the Singaporean public housing model to Hawaii’s unique needs.  It would provide new, unsubsidized homes to Hawaii residents who would be owner-occupants and own no other real property for below market prices.  By building high density homes on state-owned parcels near rail stations, the state can house its future generations without developing agricultural, conservation or otherwise undeveloped land; without adding to the traffic on our roads; and create walkable, livable, safe neighborhoods.


South City Tech Hub: Creating Digital Equity


The South City neighborhood in Tallahassee has one of the highest rates of families living in poverty in Leon County (44.8%). Due to COVID-19, almost 800 South City students were unable to experience equal learning opportunities as they did not have the devices, connectivity or technical assistance to fully participate in digital learning.  Students are falling behind in school, parents lack the tech skills to support their students, access employment opportunities, or get medical and other services for themselves and their families.  



The South City Tech Hub provides internet access, technical assistance, and skill building opportunities to Tallahassee’s South Side community by supporting school readiness and success for students and parents. The Tech Hub provides a resource for research, job search, connectivity, tele-health, schoolwork and even legal services.