The devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic—with millions out of work, hungry, and at risk of losing their homes—exposed the fault lines of our economy. Decades of disinvestment in families and communities decimated our public health system, put corporations over workers, and have made necessities like housing and child care unaffordable. Black and brown communities have been disproportionately affected by these policy choices.
In response, Congress passed and President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to address the impacts of the pandemic and put the country on a path toward an equitable recovery. The State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program was established to provide resources to boost state and local economies and direct resources to households, businesses, and nonprofits in communities that were hurt the worst by the pandemic.
Across the country, SLFRF funding is being leveraged to do exactly that. Driven by the dedication of community organizers and advocates, and the commitment of courageous and forward-thinking officials, unprecedented investments are being made to strengthen public services, address our most pressing problems and create new opportunities.
The flexibility provided under the rules for SLFRF funds is intended to ensure local communities have a say in the programs they need most. Unfortunately, special interests have taken advantage of this flexibility to fund projects that fail to address pressing hardships. And in some cases, officials are actively flouting the intent of the program to finance their pet projects, like highways and prisons.
The difference comes down to us. Organizing and advocacy are essential to ensure that SLFRF funds serve those most in need. Policymakers and community groups who want SLFRF funds to impact their communities must get involved and fight for it. Together, we can lead the way toward the equitable recovery we deserve.