One year ago today, President Biden and a Democratic Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, a series of provisions to get families through the pandemic. Part of that was delivering $350 billion to state and local governments that could be spent on various pandemic support and other public services.
The open-ended nature of this funding left it up to many state and local governments to decide how the money would be spent. So throughout this year, grassroots organizations across the country have been fighting to ensure the funds get to the families who need it the most.
On this anniversary, we are celebrating some of the wins Community Change partners had on this front. And over the next several months, we’ll be publishing a series on ChangeWire going deeper on the organizing behind some of these wins and the battles still being fought in other states as we enter into the second year of these funds.
But first, a brag reel.
Our partners secured an historic number of dollars for housing trust funds in various localities. These trust funds shore up affordable housing for some of the most vulnerable, at the lowest income levels. Our partners pushed for racial-equity first solutions to our housing crisis.
They also won big on setting up child care infrastructure that helps parents and values our essential care providers. Thanks to parents and providers organizing in solidarity, some of the states are now reimbursing home-based providers, getting early educators bonuses, and waiving co-payments for the first time.
Thanks to parents & providers of @OLENewMexico, NM became the 1st state to— Community Change Action (@CommChangeAct) March 11, 2022
✊Raise eligibility for childcare assistance for families w income up to 350% of the fed poverty level AND
✊One of the first states to reimburse home-based providers for 100% of the cost of care. 🥳
We didn’t forget about deep red states, where families faced some fierce obstructionist politicians. Our partners United Today Stronger Tomorrow are focused on winning funding for mental health, affordable housing, childcare, and SNAP in Utah, Iowa, and South Dakota.
🗣️ Laurie Robert is a leader w @WeAreUTST:— Community Change Action (@CommChangeAct) March 11, 2022
“Our group submitted by far the largest number of poll responses to our county’s ARPA priorities poll…. [and] our county commissioners have funded housing at the highest level, based on our input.”
While millions of immigrant families were cut out of federal life-saving provisions – despite many being the backbone of our economy – our partners in Illinois and Iowa refused to leave them behind. They ensured thousands of dollars in direct cash assistance for essential workers and other folks who did not qualify for other programs.
Local ARPA Organizing in Iowa including @iowacci & IC Catholic Worker won a $3.5 Million Excluded & Essential Workers Fund set to distribute relief checks of …— Community Change Action (@CommChangeAct) March 11, 2022
💓 $1,400 later this year to
💓 2,500 excluded workers & other county residents who were impacted by Covid
Several of our state partners did outreach at community watering holes like daycares and barber shops to spread the word about the expanded child tax credit to folks who are unlikely tax filers. Together with digital outreach, we got more than $346,000 into the pockets of families who needed it the most.
Plus, through …— Community Change Action (@CommChangeAct) March 11, 2022
👯relational organizing, and
🤝 partnership with the FreshEBT app on digital ads …
we reached more than 33,000 people who were eligible for ARPA CTC benefits – delivering $346,600 directly into the pockets of these potential voters
Meanwhile, others secured funds for badly needed bridges, water infrastructure, and more.
In Michigan, @MOSESAction2— Community Change Action (@CommChangeAct) March 11, 2022
🚰Got water service restored to 1,000s of shut offs – reversing A DECADE of gentrification driving policy to shut off water.
🏠Pushing for repairs to 70,000+ connectors in Detroit area houses & jobs
While these and other Community Change partners hit the ground running to make sure their communities got the funds they needed to survive the pandemic, their organizing has been many years in the making. Families across the country have been coming together to make their priorities loud and clear and bring their neighbors into the fight.
One year in, there is a lot to be proud of and so much more to be done. Throughout this series, we look forward to sharing the political and policy organizing lessons learned along the way.