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A coalition of mayors, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, urges Congress to release additional federal funding for COVID-19 relief.

FILE  - Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is shown here before the pandemic began. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has joined city leaders from across the West to urge Congress to provide additional relief funding to families, businesses and local governments still reeling from the impacts of the novel coronavirus.

In a Dec. 2 letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the 13 mayors implored the powerful Democrats and Republicans to work across the aisle and find solutions during the lame duck session.

"This is not about politics — it's about people's lives," according to the letter.

They went on to write "we need to recognize that Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), people with disabilities, the undocumented, people experiencing houselessness and people experiencing poverty and housing insecurity have been disproportionally affected by this crisis."

Read the full letter here.

The mayors say the legislation must provide emergency rent and mortgage assistance, stave off potential evictions and foreclosures, bolster funding to food banks and extend the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.

They also call for sending additional funding from the Paycheck Protection Program to minority-owned businesses, noting that nearly 70% of cities have not received CARES funding to date.

"This is an all-hands-on-deck moment," Wheeler said in a statement. "We need a strong federal partnership to help our families and small businesses recover from the virus-caused recession."

Representing nearly seven million residents, the other signatories on the letter include Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin, West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath and San Diego Mayor-elect Todd Gloria.

Portland's mayor specifically suggests using the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant Entitlement program as a guideline for sending cash toward more city halls.

"It's time for Congress to step up and provide financial assistance using HUD's tried-and-true block grant formula," said Wheeler. "It's established. It's fair. It works. It's needed now more than ever."


Zane Sparling
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