WASHINGTON – More than 170 businesses, associations, and community organizations sent a letter to congressional leaders in the House and Senate today urging them to provide direct federal assistance to America’s cities, towns, and villages in the next congressional recovery bill. The coalition is coming together following the bipartisan decision to shut down the nation’s economy due to COVID-19, which has strained the budgets of cities of all shapes and sizes, urban and rural, and of all political stripes.
In total, the coalition represents millions of Americans across the country and encompasses a broad range of industries including technology, law enforcement, construction, real estate, education, transportation, public safety, and health care. Additionally, the companies, associations and organizations account for more than 2.8 million employees and volunteers. To view the full letter, click here.
“Businesses and community organizations across our country depend on the economic strength and vitality of municipalities,” coalition members state in the letter. “Without a lifeline to recover and restore local economic activity, cities will be forced to make cuts to essential services that will have a ripple effect across the public and private sectors.”
The coalition is part of the National League of Cities’ “Cities Are Essential” campaign that calls for $500 billion in direct, flexible federal aid to all municipalities over the next two years to both prevent the worst possible outcomes in the near term and to provide the fiscal certainty required to rebuild in the long term.
“Providing federal relief for municipalities across the nation is critical to advancing the reopening of America and to our national economic recovery, on which millions of jobs and the livelihoods of American families depend,” said Clarence Anthony, CEO and Executive Director, National League of Cities.
A recently released NLC analysis finds that municipalities across the country are facing over $360 billion in lost revenues over the next three years due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local economies. In 2020 alone, cities will experience a total revenue loss of up to $134 billion, or 21.6%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one million state and local government employees lost their jobs in April, exacerbating the already staggering economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationally, the unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.7 percent in April, the worst since the Great Depression.
Upon the release of the letter, several coalition members expressed the following:
“State and local governments big and small are struggling with budget holes and significant revenue losses due to the pandemic and the steps that had to be taken to protect the public,” said Bill Johnson, Executive Director, National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO). “As a result, police departments across the country have told their officers that hiring and wage freezes are going into effect, department civilian staff are being furloughed and laid off, and that they will be next for furlough and layoffs. Law enforcement and public safety will be negatively impacted if direct, flexible funding is not given to state and local governments to help them offset budget and revenue shortfalls created by the crisis. Further, the National Association of Police Organizations strongly believes that every state, city and department that receives this funding must maintain pre-COVID staffing levels in their departments. We must avoid creating a public safety crisis on top of the public health and economic crisis this country is experiencing.”
“Local governments provide the essential infrastructure that keeps our communities safe and healthy, services to support our most vulnerable neighbors and resources to maintain economic stability,” said Kevin Washington, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA. “Additional federal dollars are needed to ensure our cities and towns can continue to address the needs of their citizens. YMCAs across the country stand ready to serve as partners to local governments through the duration of this pandemic, during recovery and beyond.”
“The immediate economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will have long-lasting effects on access to affordable homes,” said Chris Vincent, Vice President, Government Relations and Advocacy, Habitat for Humanity International. “Funding from state and local governments are a critical component of the development of affordable homes across the nation. If states, cities and counties aren’t made whole and have to slash their budgets, families in need of safe and decent housing will be the ones to pay the price.”
“The sustainability and vitality of municipalities are critical to the prosperity of the country, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic,” said Nathan Ohle, CEO, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP). “Ensuring that communities of all sizes have access to the funding necessary to build capacity locally is essential. Small cities and towns are the lifeblood of our country, and we strongly support direct funding allocations to every local government, regardless of population.”
“Goodwill® organizations are proud to partner with cities around the country to deliver critical services for people in communities needing job preparation skills, employment placement, in-person and online learning, and support services such as transportation and child care,” said Steven C. Preston, President and CEO, Goodwill Industries International. “Goodwill is entrenched in every community nationwide and it is because of our strong community partnership that together we can help localities recover from this crisis. Direct fiscal support to cities, towns and villages is essential to our joint success and path forward.”
“From our experience working with communities all across America to build vibrant places to play for kids and families, we know that cities are where the rubber meets the road on effectively responding to crises like the one we face now,” said James Siegal, Chief Executive Officer, Kaboom. “We must equip city leaders with the resources they need to provide immediate relief and also to build more resilient and equitable communities where kids and families can thrive.”
The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.