COVID relief bill provides support for the building industry
Over the past week, the United States Congress passed, and President Biden signed into law, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic. The Act created state and local coronavirus fiscal recovery funds (FRF) to provide $350 billion to assist state, local, tribal and territorial governments “to provide government services to the extent necessary because revenues have declined due to the pandemic” and to “respond to a public health emergency or its economic consequences.” The Code Council worked with a large coalition of organizations and associations in encouraging Congress and the administration to support additional assistance for state and local governments.
As a result of this new package, jurisdictions facing revenue downturns can use FRF resources to pay code department staff salaries and sustain operations, which could serve as a lifeline to the roughly four in 10 code departments that, per a Code Council survey, experienced or expected future budget cuts. Code departments are also expected to be able to use this FRF funding to make hardware and software investments that facilitate department functions during the pandemic, which is critically important given that about half of departments did not have the capability to remotely carry out important aspects of their work. However, state and local governments will ultimately determine how the Act’s resources are allocated.
“The American Rescue Plan is a lifeline for communities and code officials across the U.S. facing pandemic-driven budget shortfalls,” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO. “Construction professionals need to engage now, at all levels of government, to make sure the Act’s resources sustain the work of code departments critical to construction activity and building safety, and ensure those departments have the tools they need to operate effectively during the pandemic.”
Deemed as essential by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security early in the pandemic, the building industry and code officials continue to play a vital role in communities’ pandemic response, resilience, economic recovery and long-term success. Additional information on how the American Rescue Plan can support code departments and building safety professionals is available through the Code Council’s Coronavirus Response Center.