Sen. John Hickenlooper paid a visit to an Englewood vaccination site on April 1, touting the impact of federal dollars as the race to vaccinate Coloradans against COVID-19 picks up steam. “It’s …
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Sen. John Hickenlooper paid a visit to an Englewood vaccination site on April 1, touting the impact of federal dollars as the race to vaccinate Coloradans against COVID-19 picks up steam.
“It’s exciting to see people from all walks of life here,” Hickenlooper said after touring the site at the Malley Senior Recreation Center. “If we’re going to get past this pandemic and kickstart the economy, we’ve got to get everybody vaccinated.”
The vaccination site, held at Englewood’s Malley Senior Recreation Center, is an “equity clinic,” focused on getting shots to people with more difficulty accessing care — people who are elderly, disabled, lack access to computers or face transportation challenges, said Katlin Wolff, a nursing supervisor with Tri-County Health.
The clinic was possible in part thanks to a $20 billion provision in the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill passed by Congress in March, Hickenlooper said.
“This is really encouraging to see,” he said. “The faster we can get to whatever form of herd immunity we end up in, the faster we can fully open our economy, which is better for everyone and especially working people.”
Arapahoe County stands to receive $130 million from the bill, and Englewood will receive roughly $7 million.
How the city will spend the money hasn’t been decided yet, said Mayor Linda Olson, but she hoped to continue some of the small business and nonprofit grant programs the city undertook with federal CARES Act money in 2020.
“We’ve still got a ways to go before the community is out from under this,” Olson said.
The CARES Act went a long way in Englewood, Olson said. The city received more than $3.2 million from the bill.
“It was incredible,” she said. “Without it we wouldn’t be where we are today. We’d have pandemonium in the streets.”
In addition to projects to make city facilities more compliant with public health orders and facilitate teleworking for city staff, CARES Act funds went to numerous rounds of small business and nonprofit grants and rent assistance, Olson said.
“I could see more going toward rent assistance, and possibly toward businesses who have had to keep paying the same rent regardless of how much they’ve been able to open up,” she said.
Arapahoe County Commissioner Carrie Warren-Gully said she was proud of how Arapahoe County had distributed CARES Act funds, highlighting rent assistance programs and housing vouchers that housed people experiencing homelessness.
Going forward, Warren-Gully said she hopes the county can use some of the funding to create or bolster mental health programming, especially as people recover from the myriad traumas inflicted by the pandemic and its impacts.
“This is a moment in history to be innovative,” she said.
Englewood city revenues dropped by 2.6% in 2020, but overall the city fared better than expected through the worst of the pandemic, Olson said.
Overall, less than half of Colorado municipalities saw revenues decline last year, according to state data. Roughly a quarter actually saw revenues increase.
Hickenlooper said despite revenues that proved more resilient than initial predictions, he stood by the provisions in the American Rescue Plan that saw Colorado municipalities slated to receive more than $827 million in federal assistance.
“In a big plan or big program like this, there are a million ways to improve it and do it better,” Hickenlooper said. “The critical focus here was to get resources out into the community and to the municipalities and state governments, and try to trust that your mayors, your county commissioners are going to be able to direct those resources to where they can do the most good.”
Going forward, Hickenlooper said he plans to keep pushing for a minimum wage increase as a way to offset climbing housing prices and homelessness, and urged governments to work together to address inequity.
“We know what the building blocks are of a healthy, secure economy,” he said. “You need the right housing so everyone has a place to live, we need a good education system, and we need a good public health system.”
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