Proposed Long Beach Recovery Act would allocate $207 million to help residents, workers, businesses impacted by pandemic

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The City of Long Beach introduced the Proposed Long Beach Recovery Act on Monday, March 8, which would allocate $207 million toward economic, fiscal and public health goals, which help advance inclusive and effective progress for Long Beach residents, business owners and impacted workers in recovering both socially and economically from the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Long Beach Recovery Act is a bold and ambitious plan to jumpstart the local economy, protect the health and safety of our community, and secure the future of our city,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “The plan would not be possible without the support of the Biden Administration and Congress.”

Since the pandemic arrived in March 2020, Long Beach has faced various issues, such as business closures and restrictions, higher unemployment rates and loss of income, and complications in essential services and systems that meet the basic needs of residents. The City also experienced a sharp increase in the need for assistance from workers and businesses in industries severely impacted by the pandemic and the Safer at Home Health Order restrictions.

Because of this, the Long Beach City Council requested on Dec. 15, 2020, that City staff develop an Economic Recovery Strategy.

According to a City press release, the proposed act includes multiple initiatives organized under three main areas of focus:

Economic Recovery ($51 million)
Includes a targeted, data-driven and equitable approach to the City’s economic recovery strategy, including:

  • COVID-19 protection for businesses and nonprofits, including funding for testing, epidemiology support, contract tracing, and epidemiologic reporting activities to help protect service sector businesses, non-profits, workers, customers and visitors.
  • Direct funding relief to local businesses and workers critically impacted by the pandemic, most notably in industry sectors such as restaurants, breweries, bars, fitness and personal services, arts and cultural organizations, and nonprofit organizations.
  • Funding to address historic economic inequities that have intensified as a result of the COVID-19 recession, including an expansion of WorkLB and additional CARES Act grants to increase digital literacy and access to technology in low-income neighborhoods, worker support, economic empowerment zones, and other strategies.
  • And funding for the City’s Clean City program to keep commercial corridors clean of trash and debris and programs to reduce illegal dumping in an effort to enhance customer retention for impacted businesses and improve neighborhood quality of life.

Healthy & Safe Community ($72.8 million)
Aims to address the highest needs of community members most adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • Programs to support public health, including free testing at City testing sites and mobile testing in hard-hit communities, personal protective equipment to nonprofits serving communities, mobile testing, and safety and prevention educational materials.
  • Ongoing support for basic needs, including food security, housing support staffing and right to counsel, and case management for older adults.
  • Ongoing support for people experiencing homelessness, including temporary shelter services, expanded mobile outreach services, and funding toward the development of interim or permanent housing.
  • Programs focusing on physical and mental health equity; early childhood education and literacy development; and violence prevention and support services, re-entry, and expansion of the Long Beach Activating Safe Communities interventionist team.
  • And continued tenant assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance program to support lower-income renters who have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19.

Securing Our City’s Future ($83.2 million)
Addresses ongoing budget shortfalls and revenue losses as a result of COVID-19 to ensure the City’s lasting recovery, including:

  • Funding to replenish reserves to maintain structural balance in the City’s budget.
  • Funding to eliminate City furloughs for the remainder of the 2021 fiscal year to allow the restoration of critical City services.
  • And funding to balance the 2022 fiscal year budget to maintain City services for residents and businesses.

“This economic recovery proposal is not only a reflection of the City’s continued financial, social and economic challenges, but also a clear reminder of our local government’s commitment to our residents, business owners and entire community,” City Manager Tom Modica said. “This proposed plan will contribute significantly to the short and long-term economic recovery and stability of Long Beach.”

The City conducted community outreach to get public input and recommendations for the proposed act. Over 30 community roundtable listening sessions and public meetings with non-profit organizations, business associations and industry experts were held, with more than 350 community leaders and representatives to collect their feedback on issues, solutions and recommendations concerning the local COVID-19 response and economic recovery. Some listening sessions provided translation services and participants could submit comments verbally, in writing, or via translators.

The proposed act includes goals and objectives in the City’s Economic Development Blueprint, Everyone In, Digital Inclusion Roadmap, and the Framework for Reconciliation, in order to support a racially equitable economic recovery, that emphasizes high-risk populations and the most impacted industries and workers.

The initiatives in the proposed plan would be funded using the following sources from the federal, state and county government:

  • $151 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to be used for various initiatives outlined under each of the three focus areas.
  • Nearly $29 million in Emergency Rental Assistance funding, including $13.75 million in federal funds and $14.74 million from the State, to be used exclusively for the City’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
  • Nearly $27 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases Grant, received by Los Angeles County, to be used for various public health initiatives outlined under each of the three focus areas, including but not limited to the City’s ongoing efforts towards COVID-19 testing, contract tracing and epidemiologic surveillance.

There are expected to be opportunities for the City to secure additional funding in the future. The City Manager has given recommendations on how funding should be utilized. When the council approves a final plan, the City Manager will further develop program details and make changes to programs to make sure funds are being used appropriately.

The proposed plan will be presented to the Long Beach City Council on March 16, and will then be further reviewed with modifications, recommendations or additional input from the council before approval.

The Economic Development and Finance Committee has collected public input over the past two months, and more input will be taken during the Federal Legislative Committee meeting on March 11 prior to the full City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 16.

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