The American Rescue Plan


Monday, March 22, I jumped online to listen to a presentation by Smart Growth America on a House Bill introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer for revitalizing economies, housing, and businesses. The REHAB Act looks like it would help to fill a gap for financing renovation of properties that are 50+ years old, but are not historic contributing buildings that would benefit from Historic Preservation Tax Credits.

The REHAB Act attempts to address the interconnected challenges communities face of equitable development, affordable housing, and the climate crisis by providing:

– A 15% tax credit for expenses related to the rehabilitation of buildings that are more than
50-years old, including adjacent development on the same block, provided that the
project is within a half-mile of an existing or planned public transportation center.

– A bonus credit of 25% for expenses associated with the provision of affordable housing
and public infrastructure.

After discussing the proposed legislation with our city manager and economic development director, I sent a letter to our Representative Sam Graves asking for support. I also send a letter to Missouri Congressman Jason Smith, who serves on the House Ways & Means Committee.

Who Gets Help?

On Thursday, March 26, I joined more than 1,400 elected officials and community leaders to hear how to begin administration of benefits created by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 — a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package. The focus of this discussion was “Using Historic Stimulus to Solve the Eviction Crisis, Homelessness & Poverty in Your Community”. Information was provided on Individual Assistance, Reducing Food Insecurity, Healthcare Assistance, Other Relief and Housing Aid. The program was by invitation only, so I felt lucky to get included and also receive handouts and resources to share with other of our community leaders trying to get assistance to those individuals and families who might not even know they qualify for it.

The relief package is designed to help those who need it now while also helping the economy. One individual assistance component is the Child Tax Credit, which will help to keep families from entering into homelessness and keep them from being at risk of homelessness. The maximum credit is increased from $2,000 per year per child to $3,600 per child for children under age 6, and $3,000 per year for children ages six to 17. Children who are 17-years-old have not been included until now. Credit amounts will be made through advance payments during 2021. The act also continues the weekly supplemental unemployment benefits from $300 through August 29, 2021.

The Biden-Harris Administration is reducing health care costs, expanding access to coverage, and ensuring nearly everyone who buys their own individual or family health insurance through a Marketplace can receive a tax credit to reduce their premiums. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) not only provides the resources for America to beat this pandemic, but it also expands access to health insurance coverage, lowers costs, and ensures that health care truly is a right for all Americans. The uninsured population in Missouri that is newly eligible through the expansion is 59,400.

I’m extremely disappointed that, while I was participating in information sessions to learn how to better help individuals and families, our state legislature was working against these advances for the public health during a pandemic.

In August, 53% of Missouri voters approved expanding Medicaid for anyone age 19 to 64 with an income level no higher than 133% of the federal poverty line. The Missouri General Assembly had refused to do so since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010. Gov. Parson asked the legislature to fully fund the expansion by appropriating $103 million to leverage $1.4 billion of federal funds.

But on Thursday, the House Budget Committee refused to do so.