Use Rescue funds to rescue the people

‘The old plans aren’t addressing the root cause of the issues we’re facing, and progress has remained stagnant,’ said Cory Givens Jr.

Dear Editor:

Forty-five million dollars is chump change. It sounds like a lot of money, but it pales in comparison to the needs and demands currently facing this city during a global pandemic.

Under Mayor Kriseman’s housing plan, we were expected to generate close to $20 million in linkage fees intended for future affordable housing development projects. Well, those $20 million in linkage fees are no longer an option, thanks to the Florida Legislature. So, I propose replacing those funds with some American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars and reserving an additional $5 million for the housing trust fund.

I have heard people say that ARP funds should be used to address our infrastructure problems, but that’s an entirely different pot of money. President Biden’s new one trillion-dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill, the most significant investment in our infrastructure in U.S. history, will help us fix our crumbling streets, upgrade our aging sewage systems, expand our broadband access, and so much more.

Now, what do we do with the other $20 million, you ask? I recommend investing in the following way:

  • $5 million — Workforce & business development
  • $5 million — Family & youth resources
  • $4 million — Upgrades to our public recreation centers, especially the Enoch Davis Center in south St. Pete.
  • $4 million — Non-profit programs like the St. Pete Free Clinic, the Gathering of Women, Positive Impact Worldwide, Reach St. Pete’s Mobile Store & other groups actively working to fight food insecurity
  • $1 million — to fund a full survey & proper memorial for all three lost cemeteries at the Trop site
  • $1 million – to incentivize residents to get the vaccine. It could be in the form of gift cards or utility bill assistance; that way, the city can recoup costs. (10,000 x $100 payments)

No matter how you look at it, it’s time for a new plan!

The old plans aren’t addressing the root cause of the issues we’re facing, and progress has remained stagnant.

We’ve moved beyond The 2020 Plan and haven’t lived up to the true spirit of the St. Pete 2050 Plan. It’s time to focus on what St. Pete needs NOW!

COVID infection rates are rising. Employment numbers have decreased, and poverty rates have increased. We need a plan that prioritizes the needs of people OVER profit and politics.

I attended the community listening sessions hosted by the city and heard the fancy presentations, but did they hear us?

The city asked for our voice. Now we’re speaking up, but are our leaders really listening when we tell them how we believe the money should be allocated?

This proposal has received support from dozens of communities, civic and business leaders. Now, I’m asking you to support this community-focused proposal as well by emailing the city council at and urging them to use American Rescue Funds to rescue the American people.

Cory Givens Jr.

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