Cal Cities President and El Centro Mayor Cheryl Viegas Walker and Cal Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman led the listening session, and opened the call with the recognition that the passage of the American Rescue Plan was in part due to the strong and united voices of city leaders throughout the state and across the country.
“For a year, we have been asking the federal government for fast, direct, and flexible relief for our cities. With the American Rescue Plan, that relief is here,” said President Viegas Walker.
Coleman echoed that sentiment, saying, “There would be no American Rescue Plan with funding for each and every city without your support over the last year.”
Treasury Department Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo and Counselor to the Secretary Jacob Leibenluft provided an update on the federal government’s implementation plan for the local relief funds and recognized the tireless efforts of city leaders over the past year.
“The crisis has been devastating for individuals, but I understand it has also been devastating to municipalities, and I appreciate how hard you all have worked to get your communities through this difficult time,” said Deputy Secretary Adeyemo.
Deputy Secretary Adeyemo also acknowledged that the goal of the federal administration is to help cities emerge from the pandemic better than when they entered it, and committed to a local-federal partnership to help ensure cities receive the funds they need to support recovery in their communities.
“We want to make sure your cities can recover in an equitable way, and the only way we will recover from this crisis is by working together,” said Deputy Secretary Adeyemo.
The Treasury Department officials recognized that while the American Rescue Plan is critical for immediate recovery efforts, they are already thinking about ways to ensure long-term relief and recovery for cities, most notably through expanded infrastructure investment. A news release with a readout on the convening can be found on the Treasury Department's website
Following the update from the federal officials, attendees received an update from NLC Senior Executive and Director of Federal Advocacy Irma Esparza Diggs. As cities await final guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury on the allocation amounts, guidelines, and reporting process for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds in the American Rescue Plan, Diggs provided a list of recommended principles for cities to consider:
- Use dedicated grants and programs first, whenever possible
- Assess government operations and community needs
- Prioritize fiscal stability and returning to work
- Maintain records and document success
- Communicate recovery plans with your Congressional delegation
Diggs also provided an update on the various funding opportunities for housing included in the American Rescue Plan, such as renter and homeowner assistance and resources to address homelessness in communities.
As noted in the conclusion of the listening session, this is just the beginning of a series of calls and resources Cal Cities is making available to members through the new Guide to Local Recovery
initiative. Stay tuned for more information on the American Rescue Plan distribution guidelines, resources on federal infrastructure investment, opportunities to engage with the state on pandemic response and recovery, and more in the coming weeks and months.