Cities across the United States are being hit hard by COVID-19. They are simultaneously struggling to manage unprecedented public health challenges, a rise in social unrest, increased unemployment, and a looming housing crisis on top of major budgetary challenges due to unanticipated revenue losses from the economic downturn. In order to minimize staffing cuts and effectively respond to this current public health and economic crisis, cities have an immediate need for a massive infusion of direct and flexible federal aid.
Once these immediate needs for relief are met, there will also be a need for federal stimulus investment to facilitate a robust recovery for cities. If this investment is done strategically, it can help build a new green economy that creates jobs, improves equity, supports public health and safety, increases resilience, and decarbonizes.
This report outlines five strategic, city-specific green stimulus ideas that Congress could consider to help our cities build back better:
- Automate and streamline permitting and create virtual inspections: This will reduce soft costs for cleantech, make the permitting process more resilient, and reduce city staff time spent processing permits.
- Build electric, efficient, affordable housing and rehabilitate abandoned properties: A shift in our approach to housing will improve energy security, create three times as many jobs as investing in the fossil fuel sector, and revitalize communities.
- Support public transit and active transportation modes: An enhanced share for public transit and other mobility modes will result in safer mobility, less pollution, and increased access to basic needs.
- Enhance resilience for communities and critical infrastructure: Investing in greater resilience can improve city preparedness for the next crisis while creating jobs.
- Green urban spaces: Urban greening can mitigate carbon dioxide and other pollutants, improve access to green space, revitalize communities, and create jobs that require minimal onboarding.