How American Rescue Plan funding should go to housing? City of Greensboro looking for public input on designating the dollars

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — What would you do with $5.7 billion to improve North Carolina?

The state is receiving some of those funds as part of the American Rescue plan, and there are a lot of opinions on how that money should be spent.

FOX8 spoke to people walking around downtown Greensboro on Thursday.

The one thing many people could agree on is that some money needs to go to housing.

“Everybody needs a roof over their head, needs to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. And everybody needs to feed their family,” said Clay Huff, a Greensboro resident.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a bright light on housing issues in the city and county.

“I’ve seen a lot of people especially downtown and around the UNCG campus area, who are struggling with housing and homelessness,” said Mary Martinez, who also lives in Greensboro.

“[The pandemic] just made it all so much worse, of course, because of large-scale job losses, reductions, and layoffs,” said Bruce Rich, the Housing and Urban Policy Coordinator with UNC Greensboro’s Housing and Community Studies program.

He said almost $8 million in federal and local funding has been set aside to help Guilford County residents with rent.

“If the 12 months or up to 12 months [assistance] can pay off all [the back rent], and even continue to pay several months in the future, that’s going to solve the problem for a lot of renters,” Rich said.

He believes the extra funds should be used to make a long-term impact.

“There are so many streams of funding,” Rich said.

Gov. Roy Cooper suggested allocating $575 million of the state’s share of the American Rescue Plan strictly for housing.

Rich told FOX8 that money, combined with part of the $59 million that the city of Greensboro will be receiving, could help get to the core of the housing problem in the Triad.

“I think what needs to be done is address the more fundamental problem of inadequate stock of affordable housing,” he said. “[We need] long term expansion of affordable housing, public housing, and improvements of existing public housing.”

There’s no timeline on when or how much money each area in the state will get.

Greensboro leaders are currently looking for community input before they designate their dollars.

Here’s the interactive online tool people can use to create their vision using the money.

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