From Hurricane Katrina to the 2008 financial collapse, we have seen how low-income people and communities of color have been disproportionately hit by crises — and recovery efforts that exclude them deepen inequities. The Covid-19 pandemic starkly revealed vast structural inequities, but the policy response has also illustrated the power of equitable solutions to reduce poverty and racial disparities.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, PolicyLink and our partners have been sharing policy ideas and resources to guide federal, state, and local recovery efforts. Through this collective work, we aim to ensure that our nation’s recovery doesn’t become just a return to the previous state of inequity, but that we build an economy and democracy that truly works for all of us. We continue to track recovery efforts and advance an approach steeped in the values of reckoning, repair, and transformation.
Leveraging the American Rescue Plan Act to Advance Racial Equity
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) provided local leaders with an unprecedented level of flexible federal resources to address urgent needs related to the Covid-19 pandemic and make longer-term investments to build equitable communities where all residents thrive. Recognizing the potential for the ARPA investments to address long-standing inequities, as well as the risk of local policymakers not centering equity in their decision-making, PolicyLink and the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School partnered to analyze the extent to which cities prioritized equity in their ARPA investments. We also collaborated with the Southern Economic Advancement Project to identify equity-focused investments in smaller Southern cities. And we partnered with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) to survey chief equity officers working in cities and counties about their engagement in ARPA decision-making.
The findings from this research can support cities and counties in making equity-promoting investments as they deliberate how to spend their remaining ARPA funds.