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Newton launching study to help guide use of American Rescue Plan funds

Newton City HallSuzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Newton will launch a community needs assessment to help guide the city’s aid efforts for low-income residents who were impacted by COVID-19 and its economic fallout, according to Mayor Ruthanne Fuller.

The study, expected to cost $50,000, will focus on hearing from those residents regarding their needs and will help the city develop responsive strategies for promoting economic stability, Fuller said in a statement.

“Our residents with fewer resources have been especially hard hit by the pandemic,” she said.

The assessment will take advantage of information already available to the city, including from its now-ended Emergency Housing Relief Program that provided about $2.8 million in financial assistance to nearly 250 households in Newton.


The city will also conduct surveys and focus groups that are designed to “amplify the voices of lower-resourced residents,” according to the statement.

The city’s Health and Human Services Department, and its Planning Department, will oversee the process, which will be completed in the fall, Fuller said. A final report with recommendations will enable the city to implement responsive programs and other supports beginning next year.

More information will be posted to the city’s website,, she said.

As part of the $1.9 trillion federal American Rescue Plan Act, signed by President Joe Biden earlier this year, Newton is to receive about $63 million and its schools will get an additional $3.2 million.

Fuller said her goals for spending that money will be to make Newton stronger and more resilient, and the funds will be invested “using the lens of equity, ensuring all geographic areas of Newton, all ages, all ethnicities and all people are supported while we help those hurt by the pandemic.”

Fuller also announced two projects funded with federal relief money. The city will launch a $2 million renovation and expansion of the Newton Free Library’s Children’s Room, as well as build a new playground at the Horace Mann Elementary School.


The library project, which is expected to take eight to 10 months to finish, will expand the program space, add family-friendly restrooms, update the furniture, and include activity stations, she said. The new Horace Mann playground is expected to cost $250,000.

Fuller said she has also committed $8.35 million in federal relief money to support the city’s fiscal 2022 budget, fund road repair projects, and begin a feasibility study for renovating or replacing the Countryside Elementary School.

Fuller said residents can contact the city at with further ideas about how to use the federal aid money.

John Hilliard can be reached at