The American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, represents a critical commitment to rebuilding the communities harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic and is an unprecedented investment in our economy. $1.9 trillion in federal dollars can be used for purposes as wide ranging as housing, workforce development, and small business growth. Additionally, President Biden and congressional leaders made the important decision to center equity in the policymaking process.
Nearly a year after the American Rescue Plan was passed, most of the money remains unspent. Furthermore, legislators, civic leaders, and corporate entities have yet to develop strategies that leverage public dollars and scale impact. This is a moment that requires multi-sector collaboration and should not be wasted.
In an effort to help guide regional decision-makers, Neighborhood Allies is launching the Equitable Recovery Playbook which is designed to activate American Rescue Plan dollars and direct resources into communities that need them most.
The Playbook is guided by the following principles:
- Communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic—Black and Brown neighborhoods and low-income areas—need the greatest level of attention, creative solutions, and investment;
- Policymakers will be best positioned to invest in those communities when presented with viable and discrete options; and
- The size and scope of fiscal stimulus means that we can make strategic and catalytic investments, in addition to tactical ones.
The Playbook’s growing list of fundable projects and programs includes more than $33 million in opportunities around real estate investment and blight mitigation, small business growth, credit building, home ownership, and housing affordability. Neighborhood Allies is working with partner organizations throughout the region, such as the Hill District Federal Credit Union which needs $1 million to expand credit availability and banking services in a historically Black community and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh which is ready to make $1.1 million in home repairs in Homewood. Importantly, these projects are ready to go now and will quickly invest American Rescue Plan dollars into the economy.
To direct resources into the areas that need it most, and to increase the quality of life for all people, we call upon our leaders to act. As outlined in the Equitable Recovery Playbook, community-based organizations and businesses have no shortage of good ideas or critical needs. We cannot waste this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebalance our economy and make equitable decisions about how we invest in Pittsburgh communities.