Eau Claire Community Sign-On to the American Rescue Plan Act
As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the City of Eau Claire is receiving over $13.5 million, and Eau Claire County is receiving $20.3 million in funding. Residents must have real decision-making power in how these funds are spent, and that decision-making power must be exercised. Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) needs real investment, not just statements claiming that we are valued, but action that shows real value.
Along with residents of the City and County of Eau Claire, we should be the ones determining how dollars are spent, in a way that ensures our community thrives. BIPOC communities have endured tremendous harm and oppression during the COVID-Pandemic with racism, health and mental health crisis, traumas from losing loved ones, loss of jobs and income, and widening education gaps for our students.
As people who are most impacted and most marginalized, we need to have a voice at the table. It is important that we work collaboratively with our local government to ensure funding is allocated to services that will lift those most impacted in our community-- those in our community living in poverty, experiencing homelessness (or at risk of being homeless), experiencing food insecurity, facing health and mental health crises, and racist hate crimes and harassments.
We, the undersigned organizations, and individuals, on behalf of our communities in Eau Claire and surrounding communities demand the City of Eau Claire and the County of Eau Claire to prioritize the following:
1. Establishment of a clear community-led process before funds are allocated and spent.
2. Creation of a participatory budget trust of 20% of the allocated funds. This money should be distributed amongst all districts, with more funding and priority to marginalized, directly impacted districts. This will allow residents from each district to have decision-making power on how this money should be spent. Through this participatory process, residents, along with their appropriate City Council/County Board Representative would propose how funds should be invested. This would ensure communities have real decision-making power on what their neighborhoods need. Some ideas for neighborhoods to consider include forgivable loans to assist low-income homeowners in making health and safety related repairs to their homes, replace and build new neighborhood playgrounds, and install public Wi-Fi at neighborhood parks to expand access to the internet.
3. The Eau Claire City Police Department and County Sheriff to receive no additional funds. The ECPD already accounts for $19 million of the City of Eau Claire's annual budget with the Sheriff department's budget at $13.3 million this year from the County of Eau Claire.
4. Provide housing assistance which includes rent, mortgage, utilities deferment or cancellation, long-term eviction moratoriums, and direct funds to invest in community-led development housing initiatives, and community land-trusts for small BIPOC farmers and producers.
5. Direct funds to support youth-led organizations that support and center BIPOC youth with access to mentorship, jobs, internships, positive youth development programs, and more.
6. Direct funds to support BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists and art groups as well as recreation spaces in the community.
7. Direct funds to support BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ organizations providing critical and essential social services to communities in Eau Claire. Direct funding to support community-based Mutual Aid groups.
8. Direct funds to support the preventative care, health and wellbeing of our community that creates real access to medical, mental health response teams, preventative and other health services such as culturally specific domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy.
9. Direct funds to support small BIPOC businesses recovering from loss of income and provide forgivable loans to new BIPOC led small businesses initiatives.
As individuals, organizations, and community members we are committed to a robust, thriving, and safe Eau Claire. A community-led decision-making process, participatory budgeting and real investment in community keeps us safe. We are the experts. We strongly support residents having real decision-making power in how our city and county spends the American Rescue Plan Act funds.