Burlingtonians have spoken: Survey results about how the city should use the $15 million remaining from the city's American Rescue Plan Act funds show that addressing the needs of people who lack housing is a top priority for residents.
The survey, which was translated into eight languages, garnered 3,877 responses, the most responses any city survey has ever received. According to a report, 79% of respondents were white, 9% were people of color and the remainder preferred not to say or preferred to self-describe.
Originally $27 million in sum, the city has already used at least $12 million of the American Rescue Plan funds to "replace lost public revenue and restore full City services," according to the report.
The second-most voted destination for the money, after addressing houselessness, was supporting the creation of more housing. The third priority for the money was improving water, wastewater and storm water systems.
The survey not only asked respondents where they most wanted funding to go, but also what specifically they thought the best use of money would be in each of the following categories: houselessness, racial equity, housing, small business support and community infrastructure. Each survey question on the report also not only showed the overall results but also results just from respondents of color.
In the houselessness category, expanding capacity for permanent housing creation had the highest number of votes both overall and from respondents of color.
Regarding racial equity, expanding the city's work in public health equity was voted most important by all respondents.
Constructing new affordable multi-family housing was voted most important on the housing front.
To help businesses, respondents voted that grants and loans for struggling, locally-owned businesses and start-ups was most important.
Overall, respondents said building more rainwater gardens was most important in the infrastructure category, but respondents of color voted that investing in a community gathering space for music, art and food was more important.
Respondents also gave more than 3,000 written suggestions on the survey. Most frequent suggestions included building tiny home communities to address houselessness; better training, curriculum and hiring in the school system to improve racial equity; and converting existing structures into housing to increase housing stock.
Contact Urban Change Reporter Lilly St. Angelo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @lilly_st_ang
This article originally appeared on Burlington Free Press: Burlington ARPA funds: Survey results show houselessness biggest issue