City Council Approves 1st Passage of $10 million COVID-19 Equities Program
Creates new program by partnering with the United Way
Providence, RI – At tonight’s special meeting of the Providence City Council, councilors approved the first passage of the $10 million COVID-19 Equities Program budget on a vote of 11 to zero (4 councilors were absent). The $10 million budget is a collaboration between the City Council and Mayor Jorge Elorza’s administration for January 6, 2022, to December 31, 2024, and is funded by the American Rescue Plant Act (ARPA). The budget comes after months of work by the city’s 13-member Municipal Reparations Commission and adds a new component by partnering with the United Way.
“I am proud of our work amending the COVID-19 Equities Program Budget. These changes reflect the need for continued community input into future expenditures,” said Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11). “By partnering with the United Way, we are creating a lasting generational investment.”
The City Council and the Mayor’s administration are partnering with the United Way by establishing the United Way COVID-19 Equity Fund. The fund is seeded with $1,750,000 of the $10 million budget to attract additional investments from outside partners for years to come. All the original programs remain funded. However, the Home Repair Fund, Expansion of Guaranteed Income Program, and a Legal Defense Fund have been removed from the budget as those programs were previously included in the larger ARPA budget passed in the spring.
“The Municipal Reparations Commission and community members dedicated extensive time and efforts to outline their 11-point investment plan. I know that the budget is driven by the needs and priorities of the community and it will move the ball forward in closing the existing racial wealth and equity gaps,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “I thank the United Way for their willingness to partner with us and I look forward to the City Council finalizing their approval so I can sign this budget into law.”
“I would like to thank the commissioners and my colleague, Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris, for her thorough involvement with this program and for helping create the equity fund with the United Way,” said Council President John Igliozzi. “It’s unfortunate more of the COVID-19 Equities Program funding is not under the stewardship of the United Way. However, the City Council has ensured a portion of these funds will continue to be reinvested in the city long past 2024.”
“We celebrate the outstanding work of the Providence Municipal Reparations Commission in developing this investment plan which is an essential first step towards closing the racial wealth and equity gaps in the City of Providence,” said Larry O. Warner, DrPH, Chief Impact and Equity Officer at United Way of Rhode Island. “We look forward to partnering with the City once the budget is approved by the City Council and signed into law by Mayor Elorza.”
The amended ordinance was referred to the finance committee for review. A second passage is required by the full council.