In a recent LA Taco report, the city of Los Angeles received over $1.2 billion in COVID relief funds through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for investing in affordable housing. However, two years later, none of this money has been allocated towards homeless shelters or housing. Instead, a significant portion—around two-thirds—of the funds has been used to pay salaries of police officers and firefighters, as reported in July by the City Administrative Officer (CAO).
Approximately $317 million from the ARPA funds was utilized to cover salaries of Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers in 2021, and more than $475 million was allocated for both sworn and civilian employees of the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) over the past two years. President Biden, in his 2022 State of the Union address, encouraged such spending on law enforcement as a way to invest in community safety.
Local governments across the country have also allocated a substantial part of the $350 billion ARPA funds for law enforcement. This focus on policing is permissible under the ARPA but contrasts with other potential uses, such as affordable housing development or financial assistance to homeowners, according to guidelines from the Treasury Department.
In Los Angeles, the entire $1.28 billion received through ARPA was treated as general fund revenue to offset a pandemic-induced budget deficit of $1.1 billion. This approach aimed to maintain critical government services and mitigate pandemic impacts on households, small businesses, and communities.
Of the $1.28 billion, over 90 percent has been either spent or designated by June 30. However, questions arise about the remaining funds and their potential allocation towards housing initiatives. Mayor Karen Bass' spokesperson declined to comment on this matter.
Link: LA Taco