RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s been almost a year since Wake County received its first chunk of American Rescue Plan Act money.

The county is receiving a total of $216 million from the federal government through the COVID relief act.

“This is a huge opportunity to really significantly move the needle to improve the quality of life for our citizens,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Sig Hutchinson.

On Monday, the Wake County Board of Commissioners received an update from the county on how the first half of the ARPA funds have been allocated.

Deputy County Manager Emily Lucas said all the roughly $115 million the county has already received has been allocated.

Last spring, $52.7 million went to immediate COVID-19 response. So far, 65 percent of that has been spent, according to Wake County. The biggest chunk of that spending was more than $15 million on public health response. The second biggest portion of spending thus far was roughly $7.5 million on employee retention bonuses.

“We all know that keeping the best staff is critically important to making sure the citizens’ needs are met here in Wake County, so, and we’re finding we are losing to the private sector, so to continue to keep these folks here in Wake County is a high priority for us,” Hutchinson said.

In the fall, $42.6 million went to county projects — more than half of them are related to community health and vitality, according to the county.

Lucas said that includes the single biggest program receiving ARPA funds is the $12 million “social determinant of health network.” She said it’s made up of outside partners that help vulnerable communities.

“Whether it’s access to extra educational assistance, transportation assistance, food security programs, so there’s a network that they can go to,” Lucas said. “Government can be the facilitator in that without having to be the provider of all those services.”

Lucas said other projects receiving part of the $42.6 million include combatting homelessness and improving housing stability.

The remaining $20 million the county has already received will be granted to various organizations for 71 community projects.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Wake County received $2 million of that funding.

“It’s a life-changing opportunity for people,” said John Welch, the vice-president of resource development and marketing for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wake County.

Welch said the club will use the money to update HVAC systems, replace old buses, and help temporarily operate the Brentwood center’s new larger building that will be opening.

“We were real excited putting in our application knowing that it could be a real game-changer for the Brentwood club, a game-changer for our older clubs, a game-changer for families who rely on us to transport their children,” Welch said. “It’s a game-changer in so many ways for helping kids in Wake County.”

More than half of the community projects are related to health care access or child and family stability.

Wake County will receive the final half of ARPA funds in May. Lucas said some of the money will be reserved for potential future COVID responses in case there’s a new variant.

All of the money has to be allocated by December 2024.