U.S. Conference of Mayors says limit to cities above 500,000 in draft house bill would exclude Syracuse

As lawmakers work to finalize a legislative package responding to the coronavirus pandemic, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh is joining mayors across the nation in urging Washington to ensure a greater number of cities are eligible for federal resources. Under the legislation introduced in the House, only cities with populations of 500,000 or more are eligible for direct assistance. This cutoff would leave residents of Syracuse unable to access this needed funding.

“People who live in Syracuse and other mid- and small-sized cities face the same devastating impacts from the pandemic as larger cities,” said Mayor Walsh. “The action being considered in Washington is welcomed by all Americans, but our lawmakers need to ensure the assistance gets to people in communities of all sizes. I echo the call from the U.S. Conference of Mayors for Congress to lower the population level that would make cities eligible for aid.”

The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi which reads, in part:

“We were very pleased to see that the 3rd supplemental package put forward in the House of Representatives would appropriate $200 billion for ‘Temporary Fiscal Relief for States and Cities.’ This funding is desperately needed as cities work to save lives and shore up the local economies that drive our nation. However, we are greatly concerned that under this proposal, the cutoff for local governments to receive direct assistance is set at a population of 500,000 or more. The Conference has steadfastly advocated that Congress use the CDBG allocation structure which directly provides funds to every city over 50,000 in population. We urge that this structure be used for the new stabilization program. At a time when every city is working on the front lines to address the COVID-19 crisis, our organization strongly recommends that the House bill be adjusted to use the CDBG allocation structure.”

This letter follows one from more than 300 mayors from across the country calling on Congress to make $250 billion available for cities to help fight the pandemic and protect local communities from the economic fallout.

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