Cities Are Essential. We’re Fighting to Prove It.

COVID-19 has changed our world.  

The landscape, lives and livelihoods of our communities throughout the United States will forever be impacted. As America’s cities, towns and villages face falling revenues, strapped budgets and challenges to health and well-being, one thing is abundantly clear: To chart a path back to normalcy, we must come together as a nation. 

Right now, local governments are doing what we do best – care for our residents. We are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response, providing essential services for more than 200 million people. Our police protect. Our EMS providers respond. Our sanitation workers continue, for their people.  

When resources are available and accessible to cities, it means meals for children in need, services for those most vulnerable, and housing for the homeless  

Yet, economic relief has not reached America’s municipalities during the COVID-19 crisisThe first federal Coronavirus legislation was passed almost two months ago – and there has been no direct aid provided to the majority of cities, towns and villages. 

It is unfathomable, and I ask a simple question — why not?  

Today, the National League of Cities, the voice of  over 19,000 cities, towns and villages in our nation, is standing up to say Cities ARE EssentialOur unanimous call is simple: we are asking for $500 billion in direct federal aid and economic relief from the COVID-19 pandemic for local governments over the next two years to support the communities that support America’s people. 

This money will save countless livesThe Cities Are Essential campaign is a fight on behalf of our nation’s residents to secure direct funding for municipalities of all sizes. Our federal partners in Washington must understand that cities, towns and villages are ESSENTIAL in the COVID-19 response, recovery and reopen efforts.   

This not a request for a handout, nor a call for a federal bailout – this is the extension of a partnership, a critical state-local-federal bond that we seek in order to rebuild and restore our great nation. We not only want America to survive, but thrive. 

Relief for cities means quality of life for residentsOur communities will be less safe, less healthy, and less prosperous if relief isn’t providedCities are the engine of the American economy. We want to get our engines running – and we can, if we stand together. 

Cities Are Essential. We rise together, we rebuild together. 

For response and recovery resources for local leaders, visit

About the Author: Joe Buscaino, councilmember, Los Angeles, currently serves as the president of the National League of Cities. Follow him on Twitter at @joebuscaino.