How do you spend $13.2M in ARP funding? Hoboken presents detailed blueprint

There will be $250,000 for the ambulance services, $500,000 to invest in a new microtransit system and $2 million more for small businesses — among a host of other allocations.

On Tuesday, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla released the first phase of the Hoboken Rescue Plan, a detailed plan to allocate over $13.2 million of funding the city got from the American Rescue Plan.

The plan, which aims to facilitate the city’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, will be presented to the Hoboken City Council on Wednesday night for approval.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has provided challenges to all aspects of our lives in ways we never thought imaginable,” Bhalla said. “As we continue to adapt and recover, the Hoboken Rescue Plan will provide critically needed funding to protect our community and invest in our city’s infrastructure for years to come. I look forward to working with the city council and city directors to implement these important quality-of-life initiatives in the next several months.”

All proposed aspects of the Hoboken Rescue Plan have been provided preliminary approval by the city’s federal grant consultants at Grant Rite Management and are permitted uses as specified by the federal government.

Here is a look at how the Hoboken Rescue Plan specifically will spend $13.2 million. Projects are listed in order of the amount of allocation:

  • Revenue recovery: $6.4 million in revenue recovery for the city budget. As approved by the city council in July, the funding will allow the city to recoup financial revenue losses incurred due to the pandemic and limit the impact on Hoboken taxpayers.
  • Small business: Distribute nearly $2 million to small businesses that applied for the city’s small business grant program. The city received 241applications from local businesses that have faced financial hardship because of the pandemic. In 2020, with funds from the CARES Act, the city provided $1.8 million in grant funding to small businesses.
  • Water infrastructure: $1 million to install pressure gauges and leak sensors throughout Hoboken’s water main system to help supplement the city’s water main infrastructure upgrades.
  • Housing: $750,000 to create a housing relief fund to support residents who the pandemic has negatively impacted. The funding will also allow the city to expand the current tenant advocate position, which will allow for increased services and counsel for those with landlord-tenant issues.
  • Vaccination incentives: $600,000 in financial incentives to encourage Hoboken municipal employees to get vaccinated.
  • Food insecurity: $500,000 for organizations and nonprofits that have helped address food insecurities, housing and other critical resources to those in need during the pandemic.
  • Microtransit system: $500,000 to invest in a new microtransit system. The city will release a Request for Proposals for an on-demand microtransit system to provide additional, alternative transportation options for residents in the coming weeks.
  • EV charging stations: $300,000 to expand the city’s installation of electric vehicle charging stations citywide, supporting the city’s Climate Action Plan goals to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The city will add six new charging stations and increase the number of charging ports to 22 citywide. The city will be preparing to advertise an RFP in the coming weeks to build out a citywide electric vehicle charging network.
  • Ambulance service: $250,000 to increase ambulance service in Hoboken, which continues to respond to pandemic-related calls.
  • COVID response: $250,000 to expand the city’s robust COVID-19 response, providing more masks, testing and vaccines to members of the community.
  • Arts, culture: $200,000 to upgrade Hoboken’s art, culture and recreation programs, increasing access and new diverse offerings for the city’s youth and senior citizens. The city will be offering a survey in the coming weeks to gain insight into what types of additional programming residents would like to see in the future.
  • WiFi access: $150,000 to upgrade broadband and Wi-Fi access in the Hoboken Housing Authority to help combat social inequities and facilitate remote learning or work for residents.
  • IT updates: $125,000 to update the information technology department at city-owned facilities to allow for greater accessibility for residents and city staff. Additional IT investment will continue to bring Hoboken City Hall into the 21st century and ensure Hoboken’s workforce remains connected and city hall remains in operation.
  • Health department: $100,000 in additional upgrades to the Hoboken Health Department. Funding will allow the Hoboken Health Department to expand and move to the multiservice center, increasing accessibility for residents and provide space and resources.
  • Quality-of-life upgrades: $100,000 for quality-of-life initiatives in Hoboken, including road repair, litter and storm recovery, supporting existing city initiatives.

Councilwoman Emily Jabbour, chair of the finance subcommittee, said the plan meets a number of needs.

“It is important that the city continues to maintain fiscal responsibility while not reducing the services we provide to residents,” she said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated — more than ever — the need for local government support for everything from testing to vaccines to support for our vulnerable populations.

“The infusion of federal American Rescue Plan funds will make a significant impact on the city being able to continue this level of support while giving residents financial relief.”