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New Castle County makes equity a priority in spending ARPA funds

Matt Meyer ARPA Equity Announcement.jpg
New Castle County Gov't
New Castle County Exec. Matt Meyer announces the county intends to focus on equity issues when spend federal ARPA funds

New Castle County officials announced Tuesday a plan to put the County’s over $108 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds toward increasing equity.

Delaware Public Media’s Sophia Schmidt talks with New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer about the details of this agenda.

Delaware Public Media's Sophia Schmidt interviews New Castle County Exec Matt Meyer on ARPA spending priorities

County Executive Matt Meyer announced the “equity agenda” last week for the $108 million the New Castle County can spend over the course of the next few years.

The money will go to a “Building Better Communities” initiative — which officials say will try to reduce violence and improve economic outcomes in underserved neighborhoods.

Meyer says the money will also fund efforts around affordable housing, environmental justice and holistic workforce development.

“I think there’s nowhere that the problems and issues of COVID have been [more]evident as with inequity within our community,” he said. “A virus attacks the human body all in the same way, but COVID, this pandemic, has not attacked every community in our county, in our state, in our country the same way. And the reason is existing inequities, if you will, social preconditions.”

Meyer admits many of the details have yet to be fleshed out.

“We’re going to be looking at various projects,” he said, referring to the environmental justice initiative. “There are a number of ideas that have been proposed to us, and we’re going to look at each one and see what makes sense for investment in the taxpayer dollar.”

Meyer says he saw the County’s $322 million in CARES Act funding as an “emergency package” to keep the community healthy—and the American Rescue Plan money as an opportunity to build back better.

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.