United States Conference of Mayors requests $250 billion in localized aid to fight COVID-19

Mayors and local officials are on the front lines of this battle, and they are asking lawmakers to prioritize a local approach to distributing resources.


Image: USCM

Update, March 23, 2020: 303 mayors from 48 states and the District of Columbia have now signed onto the USCM letter.

The United States Conference of Mayors

WASHINGTON — As lawmakers deliberate on the next phase of the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) has sent an urgent request for resources to House and Senate leaders.

In a letter signed by the USCM leadership, mayors are seeking a total of $250 billion covering a wide range of critical activities needed to stem the spread of the virus and bolster city services and economies. The request includes resources for public health departments, displaced workers, small business support, food insecurity and substance abuse programs, as well as existing federal programs such as the Community Development Block Grant and Head Start.

In the letter to lawmakers, the mayors write:

“The White House has stated that its ‘All of America’ approach will be ‘locally executed’ and ‘federally supported.’ To that end, we respectfully request that $250 billion in flexible, emergency fiscal assistance be allocated directly to cities by formula as quickly as possible. This will empower the nation’s mayors to immediately take the bold actions necessary to protect the American public from both the pandemic and the subsequent economic fallout.

“Direct fiscal assistance to cities will ensure that mayors can continue to provide vital public services (including public safety, water, sewer, solid waste, and municipal electricity) and that local governments are not forced to make cuts that further exacerbate the economic impact of this crisis. This funding will support those most critically impacted by the crisis - financially vulnerable residents, small businesses on the margins, and community-based organizations - and will protect public health, human services and the economy in this extraordinary time.”

The full text of the letter can be found here. Examples of uses of the funding include:

  • Covering all additional necessary costs incurred by cities, including overtime, sick time, other employee compensation, telecommuting equipment, collections forgiveness, default from other industries on payment obligations, gutted sales tax distributions, and other impacts yet to be fully known or understood;
  • Supporting personnel costs for increased infectious disease capacity within public health departments, including public health nurses and hourly workers
  • Procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) such as devices for respiratory protection, disposable gowns, gloves, and eye protection;
  • Establishing a moratorium on evictions or, at the least, funding eviction prevention;
  • Funding local workforce development boards to immediately assist job seekers and quickly connect them with reemployment;
  • Many other critical activities.

about the u.s. Conference of mayors

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1,400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.