Help us with our yearlong investigation into recovery spending

Our newest investigative effort will explore how relief and infrastructure dollars can remake local communities, and who is getting left out.

Left: A woman stands against a wall, smiling; Right: Two men stand in a grassy area.

Left: Director of State Audit and Special Investigations at the Washington State Auditor's office Sadie Armijo and her team monitor the billions of dollars of dollars in federal funding coming into the state for fraud and misuse. Right: Northwest Folklife co-directors Reese Tanimura and Benjamin Hunter are seen at Seattle Center, Friday, March 4, 2022. “It was a very hard and uneven system to navigate,” said Tanimura, discussing the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. (Lindsey Wasson for Crosscut and Genna Martin/Crosscut)

Billions and billions of federal recovery dollars have flowed into Washington state over the past two years through a complex array of pandemic relief and economic stimulus programs. Now, Crosscut has launched an investigative desk to spend the rest of 2022 digging through those dollars to help explain to our readers where the money is going, who still needs help and how these investments could transform our state for years to come.

We want to find stories with strong community impact that help reveal barriers to accessing emergency assistance, expose waste or misuse of taxpayer money, explain equity shortcomings and promote improved public transparency.

Our reporters will be investigating rapidly growing broadband networks in rural areas, economic support for regional businesses, reinvestments in education and disparities across a variety of relief programs. 

That’s a broad mission and a lot of ground to cover, so we’ll need your help

We want to hear your questions about how this money is being used near you or for programs you care about. Have you struggled to get help from utility or housing assistance programs? Are small businesses in your neighborhood still vying for badly needed grant support? Is your city seeking money to invest in climate mitigation infrastructure? 

If so, please reach out. You can find details on contacting us and follow our coverage here.

We hope to tell stories about how this money has — or has not — met the challenges of the pandemic by protecting the most vulnerable and remaking our communities for the better. As part of this project, we especially want to reach more rural readers in southwest and eastern Washington to cover how recovery efforts have played out in those regions. 

Some of our recent work on rural priorities for legislative spending and potential disparities in Puget Sound transportation allocations shows how we can start to get at this massive effort. 

As we officially launch the project Monday, you will be able to read about how regional arts organizers have struggled with federal relief programs while some went to court over denied grants. Another story will explain how the State Auditor’s Office is taking on the massive job of accounting for all of these additional dollars passing through our public agencies. 

During our recent reporting, State Auditor Pat McCarthy referred to the incoming federal funding as a “tsunami of money that has hit Washington state.”

We hope you will follow along as we dive in and, when possible, help keep us pointed in the right direction.

This story was first published in Crosscut's Weekly newsletter. Want to hear more from reporters like Josh Cohen? Sign up for the newsletter, below.

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