WASHINGTON, DC – As lawmakers deliberate on the next phase of the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) has sent an urgent request for resources to House and Senate leaders. Mayors and local officials are on the front lines of this battle, and they are asking lawmakers to prioritize a local approach to distributing resources. In a letter signed by the USCM leadership, mayors are seeking a total of $250 billion covering a wide range of critical activities needed to stem the spread of the virus and bolster city services and economies. The request includes resources for public health departments, displaced workers, small business support, food insecurity and substance abuse programs, as well as existing federal programs such as the Community Development Block Grant and Head Start. A list of programs cited in the request can be found below.

In the letter to lawmakers, the mayors write:

“The White House has stated that its “All of America” approach will be “locally executed” and “federally supported.” To that end, we respectfully request that $250 billion in flexible, emergency fiscal assistance be allocated directly to cities by formula as quickly as possible. This will empower the nation’s mayors to immediately take the bold actions necessary to protect the American public from both the pandemic and the subsequent economic fallout.

“Direct fiscal assistance to cities will ensure that mayors can continue to provide vital public services (including public safety, water, sewer, solid waste, and municipal electricity) and that local governments are not forced to make cuts that further exacerbate the economic impact of this crisis. This funding will support those most critically impacted by the crisis – financially vulnerable residents, small businesses on the margins, and community-based organizations – and will protect public health, human services and the economy in this extraordinary time.”

The full text of the letter can be found here. Examples of uses of the funding include:

  • Covering all additional necessary costs incurred by cities, including overtime, sick time, other employee compensation, telecommuting equipment, collections forgiveness, default from other industries on payment obligations, gutted sales tax distributions, and other impacts yet to be fully known or understood;
  • Supporting personnel costs for increased infectious disease capacity within public health departments, including public health nurses and hourly workers;
  • Procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) such as devices for respiratory protection, disposable gowns, gloves, and eye protection;
  • Funding dedicated to COVID-19 response units to decrease potential exposure of local personnel to COVID- 19 and to decrease the burn rate of PPE;
  • Establishing a moratorium on evictions or, at the least, funding eviction prevention;
  • Provision of rental assistance for affordable housing and current workers;
  • Offering direct cash assistance to small businesses;
  • Preventing housing instability and homelessness for at-risk residents at a time when shelter-in-place orders are in effect;
  • Addressing food insecurity;
  • Removing restrictions on the use and documentation requirements for Emergency Shelter Grants and HPRP;
  • Providing tax relief for workers and debt relief for all with mortgages, student loans, and small business loans;
  • Providing funding to transit systems to cover lost farebox revenues and to our nation’s airports, which are the backbone of our aviation and tourism industry;
  • Covering payroll for school administrators and staff during closures, and compensating public universities for refunded fees and other expenses incurred;
  • Providing support to childcare operations which have been negatively impacted during this time and which fill a critical need in the economy;
  • Providing substance abuse and mental health resource support services;
  • Funding local workforce development boards to immediately assist job seekers and quickly connect them with reemployment;
  • Providing funding to schools and libraries to assist residents without in-home broadband to file for unemployment insurance benefits and complete homework;
  • Supporting the local arts, recreation and sports, and tourism sectors, including museums, local arts and sports organizations, and venues, to keep them operational; and
  • Many other critical activities.
  • HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program with Enhanced Flexibility;
  • HUD Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR);
  • HHS CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness Grants (DIRECT ALLOCATION TO CITIES);
  • HHS Community Services Block Grant (CSBG);
  • HUD Continuum of Care (CoC), Section 8, Public Housing, HOPWA, and Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) Programs;
  • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans at ZERO INTEREST for the borrower and forgivable if the employer retains its employees;
  • State Opioid Response Grants;
  • Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), Head Start and Early Head Start; and
  • EPA State Revolving Fund Loan Programs for Clean Water and Drinking Water.