ARPA funding failing residents and bearing no relationship to real needs

By Josh Resnek

A succession of speakers backed by a crowd of Everett young people about 60 strong who sat in the audience inside the council chamber Monday night decried the city’s lack of interest in using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to relieve suffering and to create a more equitable distribution of city funding

At least a half dozen speakers said that ARPA money is not being used as it was intended.

Several speakers indicated that using ARPA funds for culverts and road work is neither within the scope of the federal mandate governing the use of the funds, nor does the administration’s use of the funding so far enhance equity for those suffering from the stress and the reality of the pervasive poverty and food insecurity that has followed as a result of the pandemic.

Primary among those speakers were members of the city’s One Everett organization, the Everett Youth Initiative and School Committeewoman Samantha Lambert as well as activist Paula Steriti.

Speakers asked for the ARPA money to be used for public transportation and for public schools.

Another asked for funds to be used to rescue and to help those affected by the pandemic, who lost their jobs, their apartments, their savings accounts and their health.

Steriti ridiculed the administration’s use of $300,000 for a consultant to aid handing out the ARPA funding as “useless.”

“In Chelsea they hired a consultant for $30,000 and got a grant to pay for the fee,” she said.

“The administration has done an awful job of community engagement,” Steriti added.

Lambert spoke with eloquence and a great deal of knowledge about where the rubber hits the road.

“The onus is on you [the city council] tonight to provide something more than platitudes, smiles, handshakes and no action,” she said.

No one on the council said a word about the flock of speeches begging the administration to act with equity instead of building more housing projects and culverts.

No councilor felt inspiration enough to congratulate young Everett kids for coming out and speaking out and showing they care about their community.

They might as well have been speaking to a wall.

There was agreement that the $20 million ostensibly to be spent by the administration on Pope John rehab was in accordance with the equity measure measuring the use of the ARPA funding.

A fellow named Ben Wood made remarks that resonated with the crowd.

“ARPA funds are about aiding racial equity and aiding our society in being more fair, and more just in the systematic treatment of individuals who have suffered from the pandemic.”

Councilor Wayne Matewsky praised the expenditure of ARPA funding for a lunch program that was very successful for the elderly. There are some success stories with the ARPA program,” Matewsky said.

Leave a Reply