State to Invest $186 Million in Federal COVID-19 Funding for Healthcare, Workforce Priorities

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced it will invest $186 million of the Commonwealth’s direct federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) toward critical priorities including support for hospitals, health and human services, mental health, and workforce development. Utilizing these federal resources now is intended to help further the Commonwealth’s economic recovery and provide relief for residents hardest-hit by COVID-19, such as lower-wage workers and communities of color.

This $186 million is part of a total of approximately $5.3 billion in direct aid awarded to the Commonwealth through ARPA. The funding is part of $200 million provided to the administration in recently signed legislation for addressing critical needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Charlie Baker has filed legislation to put an additional $2.915 billion of this funding to immediate use to address additional urgent and pressing needs, including housing and home ownership, economic development and local downtowns, job training and workforce development, healthcare, and infrastructure.

“Our administration is putting this $186 million to work now because many communities throughout Massachusetts — especially low-income families and communities of color — have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and cannot wait for assistance. More than 400,000 residents are due to lose enhanced unemployment benefits in the first week of September, making the workforce-training funding particularly urgent,” Baker said. “We look forward to working quickly with our colleagues in the Legislature in allocating additional funding and providing residents and families with relief from the housing, economic, workforce, healthcare, and other challenges which continue to face the Commonwealth as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The $186 million investment plan includes $55 million for health and human services workforce development; $50 million for fiscally distressed hospitals; $31 million for inpatient psychiatric acute facilities, both free-standing and in general hospitals; and up to $50 million to help train an estimated 15,000 unemployed or underemployed individuals across Massachusetts by providing industry credentials in critical areas of the economy such as advanced manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, and construction. Funding will also help scale up workforce-development efforts in work-readiness programs such as ESOL and the Signal Success soft-skills-building curriculum.

The discretionary funds awarded to the Commonwealth through ARPA are intended to support urgent COVID-19 response efforts, replace lost revenue, support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses, and address unequal public health and economic challenges in Massachusetts cities and towns throughout the pandemic. ARPA is also providing a total of $3.4 billion in direct aid for local governments throughout Massachusetts.