Response & Recovery

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds

Washington’s 39 counties received $1.5 billion in direct allocations from the American Rescue Plan in the form of State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRFs). These funds will be available through December 31, 2026 and can be used for: 

  • Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Covering costs incurred from the public health emergency 
  • Replacing lost, related, or decreased revenues due to COVID-19 to maintain vital public services 
  • Supporting families, businesses, and non-profits struggling with the public health and economic impacts of the pandemic. 
  • Making necessary investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure 
  • Responding to natural disasters, including building resiliency to climate change 
  • Building a strong, resilient, and equitable recovery by making investments that support long-term growth and opportunity

In Washington State, counties are investing ARPA funds to meet a variety of important community priorities. SLFRFs were intended to be a flexible resource for local governments to address specific pandemic related impacts in the contexts of their unique communities. 

Counties received the first half of their funds in Spring 2021 and the remainder of the funding in summer and fall 2022. Many counties immediately applied the first tranche of funding to emergent issues that arose from the pandemic, such as: 

  • Housing Assistance – Rental and Utilities 
  • Food Insecurity 
  • Small Business and Non-Profit Organization Support 
  • Childcare 
  • Technology, IT Security, and other County Facility upgrade for Courthouses, Jails, and County facilities to allow social distancing and ensure employee and public health and safety 
  • PPE, testing, and vaccine efforts 
  • Incentive pay for frontline workers

Funding has also been used to shore up community members and institutions that were negatively impacted by the pandemic, including: 

  • Vulnerable populations including veterans, survivors of domestic violence, and the homeless. 
  • Small businesses 
  • Behavioral health providers 
  • Childcare providers 
  • Other Non-profit organizations serving vulnerable people

Other initial investments are being made to housing and infrastructure projects that will take time to implement. Projects in Washington State include: 

  • Broadband expansion projects 
  • Affordable Housing development 
  • Sewer and water treatment upgrades 
  • Projects intended to address the effects of sea-level rise

Investments made in Washington Counties through ARPA funding have created stronger, healthier, and more resilient communities. These investments have allowed Counties to address impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and to create new systems and supports that leave us better prepared for future crises.

Despite not receiving the full allocation until fall of 2022, Washington’s Counties have made significant headway in planning, allocating and obligating ARPA funds. As of December of 2022 78% of SLFRFs received by Counties have been expended or distributed to other community organizations. Counties in Washington are on track to fully invest these funds in their communities by 2026.

ARPA has proven to be an essential funding source for Counties during the pandemic recovery and Counties continue to utilize these funds for community projects that would be impossible without this flexible, one-time disbursement of funding.

2021 ARPA Spending Trends

Washington State Counties have had at least one year to plan for and distribute State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds allocated by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Sixteen Counties in Washington State got an early start on investing ARPA funds in 2021. As a whole, Counties invested $97.6 million of ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery funds in Washington’s communities:

This is just a small portion of the nearly $1.5 billion in fiscal recovery funding allocated to Washington Counties. This funding will continue to make its way into our state’s communities over the coming years.

The sheer variety of ways Counties have chosen to invest these funds has been impressive, with over 350 different projects and programs receiving funding in 2021. Below are a few examples of how Counties are getting creative with their ARPA funding to address their communities’ specific needs.