📬 LP Network Download | How localities are investing federal funds, affordable housing for educators, & more! | March 2024

The Local Progress network is sending our love and support to the people of Baltimore and joins them in mourning the loss of life following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge earlier this week. We stand in solidarity with LP members there – including Mayor Brandon Scott, LP Board Co-Chair and Councilmember Kristerfer Burnett and LP members Bill Henry, Zeke Cohen, Ryan Dorsey, and Ashley Esposito – who are leading through this moment. We are all in awe of the strength, love, and resilience that they and the City of Baltimore has shown. We encourage folks interested in showing their support to see the resources and grassroots efforts that they have shared online.

Here’s a look at some of what’s happening across the Local Progress network.

Localities Use Federal Funding to Invest in Equity

March 11 marked the three-year anniversary of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which has provided crucial support to families, businesses, and communities – particularly those most affected by the pandemic. Across the country, localities have been investing ARPA funds in solutions that build equity and address both immediate and long-term needs. In Las Cruces, NM, for example, LP member leader Johana Bencomo helped dedicate federal funds to workforce development programs and a guaranteed basic income program for single-caregiver homes. In St. Louis, MO, LP member Lisa Clancy led a charge to raise pay for child care workers, and in St. Paul, MN, Mayor Melvin Carter proposed and the city council allocated $1.1 million to forgiving medical debt. Localities have also used ARPA dollars to create new programs – like co-op / non-profit grocery stores in Austin, TX – and bolster existing ones, like the community crisis response team in Antioch, CA that LP member Monica Wilson helped spearhead. Does your locality have federal funds to invest? Check out this resource for using them for racial & economic justice →  

School Districts Push for Affordable Teacher Housing

At the intersection of public education and housing is a growing conversation about affordable housing for teachers and staff. Districts across the country are building housing complexes to rent to teachers and other school employees – often at below-market rates and/or on district-owned properties. For many, it is a much needed-solution to both rising housing costs and staffing shortages. Schools districts both big and small, like Bentonville Public Schools in Arkansas and Eagle County Schools in Colorado, have been looking to invest in teacher and staff housing as a recruitment and retention strategy. Cities like San Antonio, TX are also making similar moves. Last year, LP member leader and Councilman Jalen McKee-Rogriguez introduced a council consideration request to establish a program that would make homeownership more accessible and affordable for teachers and school personnel. The program would offer no-interest loans for down payments and closing costs for public school employees who live and teach in the city. Learn more →

Momentum for Rent Control & Tenant Protections Continues

From coast to coast, momentum continues to build for tenant protections and rent control measures that keep people in their homes. In California, the City of Concord had a huge win passing rent control and just cause for eviction this month thanks to the amazing work of tenant organizers and the leadership of the Council – including LP member Laura Nakamura. In New York, the state’s second highest court upheld Kingston’s rent reduction – which the city passed in 2022. The ruling is a huge victory for tenants and local electeds – like LP member and Kingston Alderperson Michele Hirsch – who have been fighting to keep housing affordable in the face of stark pushback from landlords. Relatedly, more than 50 local elected officials also rallied together to call on Governor Hochul and state leadership to pass Good Cause eviction protections that include all communities in the state. “As elected officials, we have worked to pass local policies to stabilize rents and expand affordable housing options. Local preemption and the scale of our housing crisis requires our state’s leaders to take action to protect the communities we represent.” Read the full letter here → 

📅  LP’s 2024 National Convening!

#LP2024 is on and you won’t want to miss it! This year, we’re headed to Oakland, CA on July 25 – 27. Registration is now open exclusively to LP Members & Alumni Leaders. You also get an early bird discount if you register before March 26. Invitations to register were sent to your email (reach out if you didn’t receive one). Scholarships are also available! Add it to your calendar:  iCal | Google | Outlook

👋 Meet the New LP Staff!

As the LP network has grown, so has the LP team! We’re thrilled to introduce you to our newest staff members and are excited about the added capacity they’ll bring to advance our work together:

  • Faisal Alam (he/him). Director of Finance & Operations. Based in New York, NY.
  • Liz Alcantar (she/her). California Coordinator. Based in Cudahy, CA. 
  • Mia Loseff (she/her). Housing Program Manager. Based in San Antonio, TX. 
  • Mahroh Jahangiri (she/her). Policy Counsel. Based in New Orleans, LA. 
  • Michael Whitesides (they/them). Deputy Communications Director. Based in Brooklyn, NY. 

Learn more about them and how they can support you →

💵 Traffic Safety Grant Opportunity from U.S. Department of Transportation

The Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program is dedicated to support the redesign of local infrastructure to create traffic safety as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. These funds can be used to improve street and road safety and reduce the reliance on police enforcement. The program also provides support for planning ($100K – $10M grants) and implementation ($2.5M – $25M grants) to address significant roadway safety concerns and prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the 2024 funding applications are now open! Deadlines vary based on the grant type, with the first deadline being April 4. You can find more information and apply for SS4A funding here →


🔍 A New Culprit in the Housing Crisis: Rent-Setting Software Algorithms

Talk to any renter, and they’ll tell you how hard it is to find a place, let alone one they can afford. One reason for that? Landlords using algorithms to collude to raise rents. This practice of algorithmic price fixing isn’t limited to housing, either. Algorithms are used to artificially raise hotel rates, lower worker wages, and increase the price of goods. All ways for corporations to benefit at the expense of working people. Localities can and must take action to protect their communities from algorithmic price fixing. Read more about how to take action →


🧰 Policy & Strategy Primer Series is BACK!

The Impact Lab’s Policy & Strategy Primers has a new schedule for 2024! This series of foundational learning sessions on policy tools and strategy is designed to help local electeds and staff figure out where and how to get started on key issues. Whether you’re recently elected or looking to build your knowledge in a specific area, each session will dig in on both policies and strategic approaches to help you use all your local levers to drive change. The series offers different sessions throughout the year focusing on issues related to housing, community safety, economic justice, and communications strategies. Sign up here →