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Sarah McBride, Senator (Wilmington, DE)

Paid Leave Becomes Law in Delaware

Delaware Governor John Carney has signed the Healthy Delaware Families Act, sponsored and championed by NewDEAL Leader Senator Sarah McBride. The law, which passed the legislature with bipartisan support, creates a statewide paid family and medical leave program that will provide workers with up to 12 weeks of paid leave, including to care for a new child, deal with a chronic medical condition, support a family member with a health issue, or address the impact of a family member’s military deployment. “Through collaboration and compassion, we have shown that small states can do big things for the people we represent,” Senator McBride said. Read more here about the legislation, which takes full effect on January 1, 2025, and can serve as a model for other policymakers.

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Zeb Smathers, Mayor (Canton, NC)

Federal Funds Help Shape the Hometown of Tomorrow

This week, the Canton, NC governing board, led by NewDEAL Leader Mayor Zeb Smathers, met to map the town’s recovery from a devastating flood last year that wreaked havoc on homes and businesses, using this moment of tragedy as a catalyst for more transformative change. Mayor Smathers is now considering multiple federal funding streams that have the potential to transform his town and ensure it embodies, as Smathers puts it, “the hometown of tomorrow.” For example, the governing board is considering selling riverfront land to FEMA as part of the agency’s buyout program. The land, if sold, could be turned into a park system for residents. Other rebuilding projects include an all-abilities playground, a dog park, and an aquatics center. Read this article for more on how Canton is turning tragedy into opportunity, and listen to our recent podcast interview with Mayor Smathers to hear him discuss the flood and how his town is building back.

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Levar Stoney, Mayor (Richmond, VA)

Mayor’s Alliance to End Childhood Hunger

NewDEAL Leader Richmond, VA Mayor Levar Stoney is chairing the new Mayors Alliance to End Childhood Hunger, launched this week, with more than 50 other mayors already signed on, including 14 other NewDEALers. The Alliance seeks individual and collective leadership from cities nationwide to take meaningful action against childhood hunger, including publicly speaking on hunger issues, expansion of SNAP and P-EBT opportunities, and providing better financial assistance for school meals. Read more about the Alliance, or check out their one-pager on actions mayors can take.

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Zach Conine, Treasurer (Nevada)

Supporting Children with Disabilities with ARP Funding

NewDEAL Leader Nevada Treasurer Zach Conine joined his state’s governor to launch Transforming Opportunities for Toddlers and Students (TOTS), a grant program to support children with disabilities using $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding. Grants are provided through ABLE accounts, tax-free savings accounts that are used to pay for housing, education, transportation, and services related to their disability without losing eligibility for public benefits programs. Treasurer Conine oversees the ABLE program, and has been a champion of expanding the accounts as “pathways out of poverty for 1,000 Nevada families.” Read more about this first-in-the-nation grant program.

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Pallet Shelter Homes

Problem

 We have been addressing chronic homelessness for many years and have many outreach programs and interventions in place, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated conditions and forced more individuals onto the street. Many of the people living outside are struggling with some combination of addiction, mental and behavioral health challenges. Prior to the pandemic, there was a lack of sufficient emergency shelter and treatment beds. With the increase that we are seeing throughout our communities, this lack of beds to place individuals experiencing homelessness has become a crisis. Having these residents continue to live outside is not a safe, compassionate, or productive option for them, nor a viable option for our communities.

 

Solution

The vast majority of individuals emerging need some form of support to ensure their success, which includes short-term housing. Rapid-response Pallet Shelters can be assembled in under an hour and allow for the creation of a short-term housing community. This community also includes on-site case management and support services to help residents find stability, consider their recovery, and services and work towards a more suitable permanent housing solution.

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Project Taillight: Keeping Columbus Safe One Vehicle at a Time

Problem

 Too often, low-income individuals don’t have the disposable cash to have their vehicle’s safety lights repaired when headlights, taillights, license plate lights, or brake lights are broken or burned out. The result is unsafe vehicles on the road and opportunities for folks to be pulled over and ticketed for safety violations. Those tickets cost money (on top of repair costs) and could result in unpaid fines leading to suspended licenses or worse. In the City of Columbus, we have seen a disproportionate number of vehicle safety violations issued to residents in our most economically challenged neighborhoods and wanted to take a proactive approach to address the issue.

 

Solution

Offer free vehicle safety light repairs to low-income households. Through Project Taillight, individuals living in households with annual income less than 200% of the federal poverty line and needing safety light repairs can contact the City Attorney’s Office to schedule repair appointments with Columbus State Community College’s Automotive Technology Program. Project Taillight participants receive free light repairs, vehicle safety checks, and fluid top-offs (oil, coolant, etc.).  We tested the model with 79 people and had overwhelming responses from participants, residents, and community leaders– all recognizing how a small setback, like an unpaid ticket, could upend families struggling to make ends meet and that a small investment in parts and labor could help overcome this challenge. We piloted the program through our local community college and plan to expand/scale the service through commercial auto repair shops and have an agreement from local law enforcement to give Project Taillight information to drivers in lieu of citations.

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Local Communities of Care

Problem

With the economic impact of COVID-19, thousands of families in our communities have suffered a significant loss in employment, which has resulted in an increase in families experiencing homelessness. Most large, urban cities previously suffered from a lack of affordable housing and/or shelters that accommodate whole families, which means this influx has completely exacerbated our local housing organizations. This pandemic has now equalized every social and economic class of citizens. We have seen both middle and lower-middle-class families now homeless with little to no support in returning to a space of self-sufficiency.

Solution

Allocating funding to specifically address the sudden influx of families with housing insecurities to create Communities of Care. Local governments can equip organizations with the resources needed to expand available housing options, support education and workforce development, and provide medical/dental/mental health support, financial stewardship, and transportation. The goal is to remove existing or potential barriers for families needing provisional support to “get back on their feet” post-pandemic. 

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Food for Montgomery

Problem

With Covid there is an unprecedented degree of food insecurity in Montgomery County. Not only was there a greater need in the number of families and individuals experiencing food insecurity for the first time, but there was also a lack of strategic planning and implementation for meeting these needs. 

Solution

Councilmember Jawando worked with partners such as the Capital Area Food Bank, Manna Food Bank, the Greater Washington Community Foundation, the Montgomery County Food Council, local farmers, local small restaurants and caterers, faith organizations, and other non-profits to create a reimagined operation to address food insecurity. Thanks to grants from Food for Montgomery, partner organizations were able to buy or lease trucks, cold storage, technology, and other key resources which helped them increase the quantity and quality of food distributed.

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Dignified Retirement For All

Problem

64% of Americans are not prepared for retirement and 45% of Americans have no retirement savings. Social security will only replace 40% of retirees’ income, leaving many with a lower standard of living in their vulnerable elder age. This issue disproportionately impacts elders of color and elder women. Connecticut is also perceived to be an expensive state to retire, and there’s a vocal minority of former residents who have moved to states with lower costs of living following their retirement.

 

Solution

Retirement investments must begin at the earliest of ages.  Every natural-born citizen will have $2500 invested in a Fortune 500 Index or equivalent and $2500 invested and managed by the State Treasurer.  Assuming an 8% ROI, this early investment would net citizens over $500,000 for retirement at age 60 to supplement SSI and other retirement accounts. Citizens would only be entitled to the funds if their primary residence was in CT.

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Universal Child Care and Early Learning

Problem

Accessing affordable child care has presented problems for families for a long time, and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issue across the board. While every family in the Commonwealth has felt the impact of this crisis, those most vulnerable have felt the hardest impacts. The child care industry relies heavily on women of color. Facility closures due to this crisis have left many of them jobless and many working parents to fend for themselves. 

Solution

To create a more equitable and inclusive economy we must start by providing affordable, high-quality child care. Everyone who wants to work should be able to do so, but to make that possible, the barriers to Virginia’s child care access must be broken down. We must make historic investments in our early childhood education system, calling for child care to be recognized as a public necessity that will be affordable and accessible for all Virginia families. Every family with a child from birth through 4 years old will have access to affordable quality child care. Families that make up to 200% of the Federal Poverty Limit (“FPL”) will receive free child care. Families that make over 200% will pay no more than 7% of their income regardless of their family size.