Stimulus check

Mayor Darrell Steinberg is proposing a four-part strategy for spending $89 million in federal stimulus money.

Mayor Steinberg has a plan for spending $89 million from the feds

The city of Sacramento was fortunate to get $89 million from the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief bill, having just eked over the 500,000 population needed to qualify.

But it has to spend it all by the end of the year.

So Mayor Darrell Steinberg has a plan that went before the City Council on May 12 for debate.

The council didn’t vote on the plan, but did decide to do a survey of residents and businesses on how the money should be spent.

Council members mentioned more help for small businesses, aid to renters and coordinating with Sacramento County on child abuse prevention, domestic violence and mental health services.

Steinberg proposes that $20 million each go to small businesses, youth programs and workforce training, homeless and housing programs and arts and tourism. The remaining $9 million would go toward food delivery and possibly COVID-19 testing.

“We must strike a balance between responding to the immediate economic pain of small businesses, community-based organizations and individuals, and crafting economic strategies needed to recover long-term from the economic disruption the virus and ensuing shutdown have caused,” Steinberg writes in a letter to the council.

The city has already put $1 million into zero-interest loans for struggling small businesses. Now, Steinberg is proposing that $20 million to to small businesses in underserved neighborhoods, minority-owned firms and small businesses hit hardest by the crisis, among others.

The $20 million for youth and workforce programs would help create a health corps of hundreds of unemployed to do the contact tracing that is essential to contain the virus as the stay-at-home order is lifted. The money would also go to ramp up technical education and to invest in infrastructure to close the digital divide.

Steinberg says since an affordable housing bond issue must be temporarily delayed, he wants money to rehouse a 1,000 or more homeless individuals and to create immediate affordable housing.

The mayor says the arts and tourism have been among the hardest hit by the shutdown, so he wants to target assistance to groups such as Broadway Sacramento, the Sacramento Ballet and the Philharmonic and Opera. He also wants to help Visit Sacramento. Arts and tourism boosters were counting on an expanded Convention Center and renovated Community Center Theater, but it’s unclear what kinds of events and performances will be allowed when those projects are completed later this year.

He also wants to help creatives and artists, especially in underserved communities.

Steinberg wants much of the money handed out as competitive grants. “We can seed the most promising and innovative recovery ideas and build upon those that produce the best results. We can be both responsible and entrepreneurial at the same time,” the mayor writes.

“We must act quickly to make investments that have both immediate and long-lasting impacts and aid in the city’s recovery by strengthening ALL of our neighborhoods, people and businesses, and by providing opportunity for all.”

Mayor Darrell Steinberg

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