Statewide non-profit offers framework for protecting working families, voters, minority small businesses and vulnerable populations
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Leaders with The Equity Alliance, a statewide non-profit focused on the civic and economic empowerment of the black community, offered Mayor John Cooper guidance on spending the $121 million of the city’s share of federal CARES Act funding for economic recovery.
In a memo delivered to a working group of community leaders Tuesday, The Equity Alliance Co-Executive Director Charlane Oliver outlined suggested spending to support economically vulnerable and at-risk members of the community. The recommendations included:
- Increased funding for elections, including PPE for poll workers, bus fare for those without transportation, and more polling locations in minority neighborhoods;
- Funding for Black-owned businesses, particularly owners with past criminal histories, whose Small Business Administration loans were denied;
- Direct payments to struggling working families to recoup unexpected household expenses;
- Rent and mortgage relief payments for terminated and furloughed workers;
- Stipends for temporary healthcare plans and COVID-19 testing fees;
- 14-day quarantine housing and additional halfway houses for recently released prisoners due to Covid-19.
Oliver, a member of Cooper’s working group to address CARES Act spending, said black and immigrant residents, working people, and the economically disadvantaged have been among the hardest hit in Nashville during the economic downturn.
“To jumpstart our local economy, we believe in putting resources directly in people’s hands who have been most impacted. Mayor Cooper has an opportunity to right some past wrongs of previous Administrations by directing these funds to be spent to ensure that Black residents are neither disenfranchised from their civic right to vote nor left behind in the economic recovery. With Black Nashvillians making up 28% of the city’s population, we expect the CARES Act funds to be equitably and proportionately distributed to us,” Oliver said.
The Equity Alliance has been busy responding to economic inequities statewide in the aftermath of tornadoes that destroyed portions of both Nashville and Chattanooga. In addition to distributing more than $19,000 in cash assistance, the group has led efforts to educate homeowners in predominantly Black North Nashville with professional advice on the value of their damaged property. The organization also offered economic relief to black families in Chattanooga struggling to pay insurance premiums after the Easter Sunday tornado.
“The economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequities in already distressed communities. This is a unique time in Nashville’s history, and it calls for bold leadership and unprecedented shifts in how we uplift historically black neighborhoods which were already struggling that will have the hardest time recovering from this pandemic,” said Tequila Johnson, co-executive director of The Equity Alliance.
The Equity Alliance’s recommendations to Mayor Cooper can be found here.
About The Equity Alliance: Founded in November 2016 by six black women, the mission of The Equity Alliance is to proactively advocate for African Americans and other communities of color to have a fair and just opportunity at realizing the American dream. We are a Nashville-based 501(c)3 nonpartisan non-profit organization that seeks to equip citizens with tools and strategies to engage in the civic process and empower them to take action on issues affecting their daily lives. Learn more at www.theequityalliance.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.