NASHVILLE, TN – On Thursday, Stand Up Nashville, SEIU Local 205, MNEA and The Equity Alliance called on Mayor Cooper to use a portion of Nashville’s $120 million allocation of the federal CARES Act to fund a relief effort for renters, homeowners and small businesses. Houston, TX this week created a $15 million fund for rent relief. Chattanooga has also used CARES Act funds for rent relief.
Austin, TX has an even more comprehensive relief program that puts money into non-profits' hands to provide direct cash payments for rent, mortgage, utility or car payments. “There are a lot of ways to be creative with the funding from the CARES Act, and with the budget the way it is, we know property tax relief is a big issue. And we are hearing from small businesses who were already struggling with the impacts of gentrification, Covid-19 is compounding the problem. We should look at what other cities are doing and take the ideas that work for Nashville,” said Odessa Kelly, Executive Director of Stand Up Nashville.
Tequila Johnson, Co-Executive Director of The Equity Alliance said, “Based on our relief efforts from our #DontSellOutNorf initiative, a majority of residents in North Nashville are renters and need help with rent payments. Now these same residents who are recovering from the tornado have lost their income due to COVID-19. The city has excess money that the federal government allocated specifically to help people during Covid-19. We should divert dollars where it's needed most as other major cities have done.”
Amanda Kail, President of the Nashville teachers’ union, MNEA, added, “We know that this crisis is hurting everyone and that the steps the city has to take to continue funding our schools are going to be difficult for some people. That's why it is so important that the Mayor and the Council do everything that they can to make the most of the CARES Act funding and help the people who need it. Brad Rayson, President of the union representing Metro employees, SEIU, said, “many of our members have 2nd and 3rd jobs, and they are losing those jobs. Nobody will escape the impact of COVID-19. We need to use this money in the best way possible to help the most people.”