In fall 2021, the City of New Haven launched a multi-pronged community engagement process to inform how the City can spend American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding. Under the umbrella of Civic Space, Hester Street and DC Design worked with the City of New Haven to lead a collaborative engagement process to reach New Haven residents in key neighborhoods of need, as well as the non-profit and service providers that serve these communities. The process deepened collaboration among residents, government, community-based organizations, and local institutions, and made policy making and governance more equitable and transparent for residents.

The quantitative and qualitative data gathered through this process provided insight into New Haven’s racial disparities related to intergenerational wealth, income inequality, homeownership rates, and access to institutional capital. The process also surfaced stakeholders priorities and input for the once-in-a-generation funding available through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Participants shared feedback that was specific to the issue areas above, as well as macro-level feedback applicable to existing New Haven programs and future ARP-funded programs. They emphasized the need for clear goal setting, support with accessing existing programs, community partnership in the implementation of future programs, direct financial assistance for vulnerable populations and non-profits, and improved disbursement mechanisms for City funds.

New Haven Democracy in Action culminated with the publication of The American Rescue Plan is for You: Findings and Recommendationsfrom New Haven’s ARP Community Engagement Process. The recommendations included in this report provide guidance to the City of New Haven, New Haven residents, non-profit and service providers, and community leaders as they work collaboratively to implement programs that respond to existing socioeconomic and racial inequities that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.