INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Democratic party came together Thursday to highlight how the American Rescue Plan is helping Hoosiers recover from COVID-19.
The City of Indianapolis received $237 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan, a large portion of which is being dedicated to violence reduction.
A total of $37.5 million will go toward a gun-violence reduction strategy, which includes hiring more peacemakers. Meanwhile, $45 million is going toward grassroots organizations and $30 million is dedicated to mental health programming.
Tony Lopez, deputy director of violence reduction for the city's Office of Public Health and Safety, said the money is already being put to good use.
"We've been able to grow our team from about 10-12 individuals and right now we are at about 40 — and we are well on our way to the 50 peacemakers we are wanting to have," said Tony Lopez.
Indy Parks and Recreation is also receiving funding through the federal stimulus package. An allocation of $16.5 million will be dedicated to improving city parks. But the funding can't be used at just any park in the city.
"Areas that might have high crime and or poverty — things of that nature — they've identified certain census tracks," said Principal Park Planner Andre Denman.
Denman said improving those parks could lead to a reduction in crime, which is a goal of revitalization efforts.
"When you make improvements and you get more people in a park, usually the things we don't want to happen in parks go away,” said Denman. “So when you make the improvements, you get more eyes, families people in parks, and you know, all the negative goes away."
Investments in underserved communities will also come from the Office of Public Health and safety through American Rescue Plan dollars — not only for violence reduction but investing in grassroots organizations.
"Helping them, in the long run, be able to pull those grants and pull that funding that they could get on their own by the things that we help them understand and learn from," said Lopez.
Indy Parks said it hopes to start construction by the beginning of next year and finish updates by the end of summer or early fall of 2023.