With money from the federal stimulus package, Ottawa County spends a lot on low-cost housing and more child care centers

Ottawa County is investing a lot of money from federal stimulus money to bring more childcare centres to the county and to make more affordable housing available.

On Tuesday, November 22, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners approved a long list of projects that will get some of the $57 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Large pieces of the pie will go to things like an affordable housing revolving loan fund, which will get $10 million.

A pilot programme run by the Greater Ottawa County United Way called Housing Next will set up a fund that will lend money to affordable housing projects at low-interest rates.

In the area of child care, $7.5 million is set aside to help childcare centres and early learning centres grow.

The Outdoor Discovery Center Network will get money to add 1,000 more childcare spots in Ottawa County over the next three years. The group is supposed to work with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District and local businesses to set up new places for child care at local businesses.

Officials from the county say that a study and report showed that Ottawa County has a “critical need” for more child care. According to data from the Michigan League for Public Policy, there are 1.9 kids for every childcare spot that is open.

Other areas that will get a lot of money from ARPA include Ottawa County, which will get $1 million to hire and keep mental health professionals. The Community Mental Health department of the county will use the money to hire six to ten new doctors.

A non-profit developer called Dwelling Place will get $2 million to improve a 46-unit building in downtown Holland. Most of the people who live there make between 40 and 60 per cent of the county’s median income.

Samaritas, another charity, will get $1.5 million to build 53 apartments for low-income families in Spring Lake.

ARPA money has also been used to protect farmland, set up a fund to help crime victims, improve Ottawa Sands Park and the Idema Explorers Trail, and help Latin Americans United for Progress develop their workforce.

All told, county commissioners used ARPA money to pay for 23 different projects.

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