Earlier this yr, Congress handed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan — a crucial shot within the arm for struggling communities as we emerge from the pandemic. These funds are meant to shore up municipal budgets and permit native jurisdictions to handle the detrimental financial impacts of the well being emergency. My hope is that Santa Rosa makes use of a piece of our $34.6 million to make important investments in struggling neighborhoods whereas testing poverty-alleviating applications aimed toward constructing long-term financial mobility.
This coming Tuesday, I’ll ask my colleagues on the Metropolis Council to think about investing in kids’s financial savings accounts, bolstering our little one care pilot program, funding a assured jobs program for struggling staff and testing a assured earnings pilot program. Collectively, this package deal could be one of many largest poverty-reduction efforts our area has ever seen.
Research constantly inform us that inequality is each pervasive and generational, and that if we wish to give kids the perfect likelihood to succeed, we have to make early, upfront investments of their success. The Metropolis Council ought to think about using the rescue plan funds to assist break this cycle and spend money on “child bonds.”
By offering government-sponsored financial savings accounts, low-income kids would obtain the seed funding they should afford increased training or the down cost on a house later in life. These accounts would recognize in worth over time and would incentivize long-term financial savings. Research present that child bond applications are an economical technique to scale back pervasive racial wealth gaps.
We additionally know that folks have a tougher time succeeding in the event that they don’t have a help community they will depend on to assist watch their kids whereas they’re working. Final yr, the Santa Rosa Metropolis Council unanimously authorized $2 million to prop up our strained little one care trade. On the pandemic’s peak, Santa Rosa noticed almost 60% of our little one care slots evaporate, leaving our metropolis’s workforce scrambling to search out placement for his or her youngsters. In partnership with First 5 Sonoma County and the Group Little one Care Council of Sonoma County, we now have been working to stabilize current little one care suppliers and administer coaching to small companies to develop little one care capability. A $2 million injection of federal aid funds may very well be used on Part II of this system — to create a low-interest tenant enchancment program that will help suppliers in making the bodily enhancements to their properties essential to open their doorways or develop.
We also needs to acknowledge the nexus between our financial improvement objectives and different metropolis priorities, equivalent to homelessness and catastrophe preparedness. By setting apart $2 million for a assured work program, we might present a brief job to anybody within the metropolis who has fallen on laborious occasions and train them the abilities they should do vegetation administration and park beautification.
If we couple this program with our homeless companies, we might assist stabilize town’s poorest residents and assist carry them out of homelessness. By guaranteeing work, we are able to put individuals again on their toes and assist them get well from the pandemic.
Lastly, 61% of People do not need the financial savings essential to climate an sudden $1,000 expense with out borrowing cash or utilizing credit score. Constructing off the success of the federal stimulus checks, the Metropolis Council ought to think about $1 million to fund a $400 per 30 days assured earnings pilot program for single dad and mom who stay far beneath the poverty line.
Research have proven that focused assured earnings program recipients are twice as more likely to discover full-time employment and are 27% extra more likely to search preventive medical care. Lower than 1% of the funds usually go towards alcohol and tobacco, with the overwhelming majority spent on meals, residence items, garments and automotive prices. What the information exhibits is that placing cash within the palms of struggling single dad and mom is a direct funding in a greater future for our metropolis’s low-income kids.
Santa Rosa has a once-in-a-generation alternative to handle systemic inequality and alleviate poverty for struggling households. Let’s be daring and provide options that match the scale and scope of the issues we face.
Chris Rogers is mayor of Santa Rosa.
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