December 17, 2008

Still time to call for the City to save critical programs

UPDATE: And the group has a name! Email to join up with "The Coalition for Community Investment."

So we totally believe that the current fiscal situation is gloomy—for our city, along with basically every local and state gov in the country. But just as all the serious economists are calling for increases in federal spending, local advocates know that now is the time when it’s more important than ever to maintain and even increase public investment in programs that stitch together the very fabric of our community. Right now more than ever we need programs that create housing opportunities, that support the unemployed and underemployed, that brace communities for the increases in social disruption that are virtually inevitable to follow in times of economic disruption.

And we have to act now to make sure our voice is heard as the city government plans its own course of action.

The "Coalition for Community Investment" has drafted a Statement of Principles regarding the fiscal crisis that has already garnered almost 100 signatories from fellow service organizations, businesses, and local groups. (Email to join, or for more information.) They’re sending the letter to the Mayor and City Council tomorrow, so we need other parties to join our call today. The CFO will make an announcement about additional budget adjustment on Friday – there is still time in which the community can re-affirm its demand for effective and foresighted public investment.

And yes, that time can be valuable, and our advocacy can be effective. I spoke with SOME’s Joni Podschun about recent advocacy efforts that have protected the bulk of the funding for critical programs like Housing First. Says Joni:

“Last time we learned about the Council's proposal on Friday morning of a holiday weekend – the vote was scheduled for that Monday at 1. But the community and advocates mobilized to delay the cuts, and we were successful in restoring funds for Housing First, the Office of Disability Rights, and the new domestic violence shelter. With a more transparent and collaborative process, our city leaders would be better informed about the effects of their proposals and the views of their constituents.”

Indeed. And with innovative proposals like Councilmember Jim Graham’s parking fee hike, we will be able to weather the economic storms by placing costs and investments in all the right places.

Sign on to the Statement of Principles today – email – and pass this around to others who will want to join with us!

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