Committees began voting on policy resolutions. Mayors heard from U.S. officials, including White House Advisor Tom Perez. Thirteen cities were honored for climate leadership.

Kansas City, Mo. – Today, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) hosted the first day of its 92nd Annual Meeting, with more than 200 mayors convening in Kansas City for four days of collaboration and action on a wide variety of issues impacting cities, including housing affordability and homelessness, the mental health crisis and gun violence.

“We are moving the needle on some of America’s biggest issues,” said USCM President Reno (NV) Mayor Hillary Schieve at the opening press conference. “Our annual meeting is a time when America’s mayors come together to learn from one another, to collaborate on behalf of our cities and our people, and to raise our shared voice to drive progress in these challenging times,” added USCM First Vice President Columbus (OH) Mayor Andrew Ginther.

“Mayors lead, they bring people together, they work across the ideological spectrum to find common purpose, and they are the most effective leaders this nation has right now,” said USCM Second Vice President Oklahoma City (OK) Mayor David Holt. “Mayors get things done.”

Thirteen cities were celebrated for their leadership in combating climate change, receiving the Mayors’ Climate Protection Award from the Conference and sponsor Walmart. At the ceremony, White House Senior Advisor Tom Perez praised the work of mayors on climate and economic opportunity, infrastructure, and immigration.

Later in the day, Mayors convened for a session titled “Confronting the Homelessness Crisis: Advancing a New National Agenda,” during which they discussed next steps for the Conference following its recent Housing Fly-in to Washington, D.C.. The group also examined opportunities and challenges cities face in addressing the needs of the unhoused. They were joined by Jeff Olivet, Executive Director United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, who emphasized the importance of mayoral leadership on this issue.

Committees Highlight Priorities, Advance First Wave of Resolutions

Also on Thursday, the Conference’s committees started passing policy resolutions, which the full Conference will vote to approve on Sunday. The approved resolutions will guide the Conference’s advocacy priorities for the year ahead.

  • The Community Development and Housing Committee led by Toledo (OH) Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz advanced 14 resolutions related to the urgent housing crisis and homelessness. Afterwards, experts from the U.S. Department of Treasury detailed the power of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in providing housing stability services and preventing evictions.
  • The Conference’s Latino Alliance of Mayors unveiled a new brief called the Latino Best Practices Playbook, featuring a variety of city initiatives and partnerships supportive of the Latino/Hispanic/LatinX community. “Our hope is that at some point this Latino Best Practices Playbook will be an awards program … that comes with funds to help you continue funding the programs you offered in your cities,” said Tucson (AZ) Mayor Regina Romero, the chair. “Even without the funds, we had an incredible turnout by mayors, submitting their best practices.”
  • The Council on Metro Economies and the New American City hosted a conversation about resilient cities and federal funding. The Council is the economic research arm of the USCM, led by Columbus (OH) Mayor Andrew Ginther and Madison (WI) Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. During the conversation, mayors and federal partners discussed the latest economic forecasts, with Madison (WI) Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway emphasizing the importance of federal funds going directly to cities: “I hope the federal government will take the lessons learned from ARPA and apply them forward. Because now I think we all proved that when you send resources directly to cities they are used effectively.”
  • The Transportation Committee advanced four resolutions on long-distance rail and public transportation. The session was led by Edina (MN) Mayor James Hovland. The mayors were joined by guest speakers from Amtrak and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. “By considering localism [in transportation], we’re considering how to improve how federal dollars are invested, improve project selection, improve mobility and improve our cities and our local areas, and empower local officials to address our constituents’ demand for investments that address local mobility, local equity, health and safety needs,” said Austin (TX) Mayor Kirk Watson.
  • The Energy Standing Committee advanced three resolutions: on safe handling of radioactive waste, U.S. production of new distribution transformers, and the reauthorization of the vital Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG). Cities are committed to making environmental progress, mayors explained during the session. “This is a conversation our constituents are talking about, our businesses. It’s about economic development. Companies want to know about how we’re improving the environment,” said Columbia (SC) Mayor Daniel Rickenmann, the committee’s chair. “Today is the time. Today is our opportunity to use what the [federal] government has left us as cities, taking advantage of the Inflation Reduction Act and its features like direct pay.”
  • The Metro Economies Standing Committee advanced almost two dozen resolutions on federal tax credits, municipal bonds, public-private partnerships, affordable housing, low-income housing, workforce, retirement and junk fees. They also hosted an expert conversation about the affordability crunch squeezing cities and the funds available from the direct pay reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act and the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). “There’s a wide range of topics here, but it’s so important that we keep moving ahead, including on the federal tax credits,” said Scranton (PA) Mayor Paige Cognetti, the committee chair.

The Annual Meeting continues tomorrow and Saturday before concluding on Sunday, when the mayors will vote on the next leaders of the Conference and the policy priorities for the year ahead.