Rebuild Woonsocket, a grassroots organization committed to mobilizing the community, is calling on the city government to do a more thorough job of gathering public input on how to use the over $36 million of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds that we’re receiving from the federal government, to help fix problems caused or worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Woonsocket created a survey to collect public opinions. The survey, which is available in English, Laotian, and Spanish, can be found at Rebuild Woonsocket says it plans to use social media and other channels to bring more community members into the process. “We’re developing a series of graphics to help explain what this all means,” said Caol Bresnahan, the organization’s Creative Director, “to cut through some of the wonky language and vague concepts that the city uses”.

“Why isn’t the city sending out this survey to the public through every channel possible?” asked Marlene Guay, the organization’s Treasurer. “This survey was released with such a quick deadline and very little promotion. Given how important it is to have the community’s feedback on this, every effort should be made to ensure that the entire community is aware of it and can access it,” added Nwando Ofokansi, one of the organization’s directors.

The influx of ARPA money is an unprecedented opportunity to invest in our community and address some of our biggest problems. While all the priorities listed in the survey are important, Rebuild Woonsocket believes the city would be misusing the money if any of it is used to expand the police budget. “We believe the money should be invested in what the community wants and needs— housing assistance, mental health and domestic violence services, and community health and wellness, as described in the survey,” said Alex Kithes, the organization’s President and Executive Director, “but the city should go further— and use some of the funds to build high-quality, affordable housing, to address the housing and rent crises at their root.”

Make your voice heard by taking the survey here before the July 31st deadline:

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