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More ARPA Funds Approved for Rent, Gunshot Monitors, Police De-escalation Training

Rental units along Westcott Street in Syracuse
WAER File Photo
Wikimedia Commons
People having trouble paying rent, but making too much money for past rent relief, could get assistance from new city program using ARPA funding

Syracuse residents who have been having trouble paying rent during the pandemic might have one more lifeline thanks to funding approved by the Syracuse Common Council. Lawmakers continued to help direct funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to community residents in need and to other programs. After Monday's vote, $1 Million of ARPA funds will be set aside for rent relief to those who didn’t qualify for other assistance. Councilor Latoya Allen says past rent relief didn’t help people who fell into a gap.

“So if you have a single mom who's working and say she’s making $50,000 a year but wouldn’t be able to pay the rent, … before they wouldn’t be able to apply.  Some of the people who were actually working and got laid off, their income was still too high to qualify (for former rent relief programs),” said Allen.

These funds are for those who make between 80% and 100% of the area’s median income. This measure was previously held up as the city wanted Onondaga County to match the one million dollars. Councilor Joe Driscoll criticized the county’s refusal, especially when county ARPA funds are slated for a sports complex.

“It would be nice if we didn’t have to step into territory that we are not in the business of.  The County is supposed to take care of rent relief, they do social services.  They should have at least matched us, and so I hope everybody enjoys the lacrosse stadium but that was not what this money was intended for,” said Driscoll.

The county will administer the rent aid, and as a concession will not charge any administrative fees, so more can go to families in need.

Other ARPA fund proposals approved

Another $170,000 of ARPA funds were approved to expand the “Shot-Spotter” program to the city’s North side. It monitors for the sounds of gunshots and directs police there.

Lawmakers also green-lighted $550,000 for the purchase of 220 tasers along with advanced training.

The proposals came from Mayor Ben Walsh. He called both ‘major investments’ in the city’s public safety. He added in a release that the tasers are part of a program to train officers on less-lethal options when there are confrontations between police and the public.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.