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Originally published: January 5, 2022

First ARPA dollars in Omaha going to nonprofits, hotels

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Wednesday, Mayor Jean Stothert announced that $22 million from American Rescue Plan Act will be distributed in the coming months, specifically to hotels and nonprofits.

$15 million partnering with social programs to address basic needs like housing and healthcare, workforce development and violence prevention.

United Way of the Midlands is tasked with disbursing $5 million of that funding.

They want to focus on keeping the community afloat through food and shelter, homeless outreach services, financial literacy, healthcare access promotion and education, and mental and behavioral healthcare.

“We’re seeing a lot of gaps, to be honest with you,” said United Way President and CEO Shawna Forsberg. “Access to healthcare, access to mental health support, housing stability has really been a big challenge. Obviously we’re still seeing challenges with food insecurity . So we’re going to be investing in those basics, across the board through our process.”

$10 million dollars will go to the Omaha Community Foundation. This money will go toward nonprofits making efforts to address violence through mental health, crisis response and youth services.

Workforce readiness is also a priority for the foundation.

“Sustainable nonprofits are key to thriving regions,” said the foundation’s President and CEO, Donna Kush.

The Omaha City Council will be voting on this agreement between the Omaha Community Foundation, the United Way of the Midlands and the city on Feb. 2. A public hearing will be held on Jan. 25.

Both United Way and the Omaha Community Foundation will begin accepting applications in February.

$7 million of ARPA funding is going to a new program call the 2022 Hotel Stimulus Program in an effort to bring the tourism industry back to normal to Omaha.

“During a normal year, tourism is a $2 billion industry for our city, and it supports close to 18,000 jobs for our friends, our family and our neighbors,” said Deborah Ward, executive director of the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In 2020, hotel revenue dropped by 51% compared to the previous year. With the new program, 68 hotels within Omaha will be eligible to get some of that money back.

The program will begin taking applications on Jan. 10. Applications will be accepted at hotelgrant@cityofomaha.org.

Allocations from the fund will be brought before the city council this spring.

The city has until 2026 to spend its expected $112 million in ARPA funds, but they know there’s immediate need to get those dollars into Omaha.

“We’re moving as fast as we think we possibly can, but our goal isn’t to sit on this money,” Stothert said. “Our goal is to get it out where it’s needed.”

Watch the press conference below on our Facebook page @3NewsNow.

Read the original article here.