As we close out 2023, NLC is looking back at the priority issues for local leaders. Communities of all sizes were focused on different elements of these issues, which is evident in the list of top articles and resources that NLC produced.
NLC President Mayor Victoria Woodards of Tacoma, WA, kicked off her year of leadership with a simple message: People + Partnerships = Possibilities. Throughout her year, Mayor Woodards inspired and worked with local leaders across the country to strengthen or build partnerships in their communities that would enhance and benefit services to their residents. The result, she emphasized, was endless possibilities for engagement, new opportunities and innovative projects.
This year, NLC saw municipalities work to address housing challenges, develop workforce opportunities, advocate for rail safety, pursue improved and better infrastructure and advocate for local government authority. The list below showcases the resources that municipalities accessed to support their efforts on these issues. From our advocacy with federal agencies to on-the-ground support through NLC’s technical assistance programs, this list compiles some of our top resources and articles that made a difference to cities, towns and villages in 2023.
Housing Supply is a High Priority for Local Governments
This year, NLC launched the Housing Supply Accelerator, a national campaign that brought together local governments, community planners, builders, financial institutions, housing policy associations and state and federal partners to develop, align, and advance solutions for housing supply challenges at the local level. This fact sheet outlined local leaders’ challenges regarding housing supply needs. It also showed that local leaders saw a strong role for state and national leaders in funding and collaborative efforts.
A nationwide survey conducted by NLC from January 18, 2023, to March 1, 2023, revealed that expanding and diversifying local housing supply was a high priority among local leaders, with a particular concern for the lack of affordable workforce housing.
Housing for Asylum Seekers: Barriers and Best Practices
Thousands of individuals seek asylum in the United States every year with little or next to no financial resources. Cities like Boise, ID, Albuquerque, NM, Washington, D.C., and Portland, ME are examples of how local governments address the housing predicament with short- and long-term solutions. The responsibility to provide services to immigrants who fled from dangerous conditions in their homeland has fallen primarily to local governments and non-profits that are also experiencing financial and staffing constraints.
Good Jobs, Great Cities
In 2023, NLC partnered with the Department of Labor and the Siemens Foundation to launch Good Jobs, Great Cities, a new initiative that offered a unique opportunity for municipalities to invest in strategies to build a skilled labor force for next-generation infrastructure, clean energy and advanced manufacturing. Municipalities selected for the program could participate in the Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy, where they could access federal funding to develop innovative and scalable city-supported solutions to help workers reskill or upskill into quality, high-demand jobs in infrastructure, clean energy, and advanced manufacturing jobs.
Interactive Rail Safety Map: See Derailments in Communities Across the U.S.
In the wake of the East Palestine, OH derailment, NLC responded quickly to help municipalities protect their communities from similar disasters. With an average of three train derailments per day across the U.S., many carrying potentially hazardous substances, NLC created an interactive map to showcase the frequency of derailments (From 2012-2023) and launched an advocacy campaign to support bipartisan rail safety legislation. The map accounts for all railway networks in the U.S. and the congressional districts where derailments occurred.
Rebuilding America: Tracking Federal Investment in Local Infrastructure Projects
Passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law injected much-needed federal funds into local communities nationwide. NLC’s Rebuilding America dashboard showcases the breadth of cities, towns and villages that have successfully received direct federal grants as of August 28, 2023. The dashboard includes announced and awarded funding made publicly available by the General Services Administration (GSA). The dashboard is updated regularly with new awards and announcements.
Empowering Local Authority: Advocating for Responsible Preemption
Along with the Center for Public Health Law Research, NLC follows state trends on preemption of local authority, and currently track trends on civil rights and education, housing, infrastructure, public safety and policing, tax, budgeting and finance, and workforce. In its push for local authority, the Local Authority Dashboard displays the state landscape for municipalities regarding broadband infrastructure, with additional policy areas to be added.
Community and Economic Development
State of the Cities
In its 2023 State of the Cities report, NLC showed that the top priorities for mayors are Infrastructure, Budget & Management, Public Safety and Economic Development. The annual report examines the challenges facing mayors and their municipalities, using data extracted from yearly speeches by mayors from a sample of U.S. cities, census data on U.S. cities and sentiments of residents in their cities.
City Fiscal Conditions 2023
Three years after the pandemic outbreak, cities have recovered and have maintained a largely positive outlook about their near-term fiscal future. In the 2023 City Fiscal Conditions report, an analysis of data from 820 cities summarized that local economies are healthy and have seen the increased value of city taxes. Cities’ cautious approach to budgeting has helped them manage through these fiscally uncertain times.
Apply Now for Billions in Transportation Grants
For local leaders looking to increase transportation connectivity between residents and opportunity, NLC highlighted critical information and resources on several transportation grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) that are available to cities, towns and villages.
Decarbonizing Delivery of Goods Municipal Action Guide
With more people shopping online, NLC’s Decarbonizing Delivery of Goods Municipal Action Guide helps readers better understand electric delivery technologies and how cities can work toward the decarbonization of delivery. The resource provides actionable steps toward implementing green loading zones, micro hubs, public-private partnerships and more.
Exploring the 15-Minute City Concept and Its Potential for Communities of All Sizes
The notion of the 15-minute city enables residents to access most daily amenities within a 15 to 20-minute walk, bike or other form of transportation from any point in a city, town or village, regardless of size. The concept integrates transportation planning, urban design, mixed-use development, safety on streets and sidewalks, with policy making and the real-life experiences of residents to allow for more freedom of mobility and increased opportunity.
Local Authority & Intergovernmental Relations
SLFRF Funds Will Not Be Impacted by Debt Ceiling Negotiations
During the debt ceiling negotiations between Congress and the White House, NLC helped local leaders understand the possible impacts on cities, towns and villages. As a result of NLC’s advocacy State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) were not at risk of rescission by the federal government.
Federal Update: Government Shutdown Averted
As a federal government shutdown loomed in early Fall 2023, NLC educated its members and municipal officials on the status of discussions and the ultimate decision by Congressional leaders and the White House.
Federal Update: Government Shutdown Averted (Again), No FY24 Budget in Sight
Forty days after the first shutdown was averted, there was still no agreement for the FY24 budget. While another federal government shutdown was averted, Congress passed a complicated Continuing Resolution that will temporarily keep the government open. This Continuing Resolution is different from other ones in the past; it separates funding into two buckets: some departments will be funded through Jan. 19, 2024, while others will be funded through Feb. 2, 2024.
Interested in Learning More?
NLC is a strategic partner for local leaders and municipal staff, serving as a resource and advocate for communities large and small. Join our network and get access to timely resources, proven best practices, and connections to peer networks. Join today!