Cities, Counties Plan to Use Covid Relief Funds for Reparations

Repurposing relief funds: is it even legal?

At least ten government entities are planning reparations programs for Black residents, but at least two of them are planning to use Covid relief funds to do it.  The funds for reparations in Providence, Rhode Island, and Shelby County, Tennessee would come from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) signed into law in 2021.

The American Rescue Plan

Within the ARP, the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund provides $350 billion for states, municipalities, counties, tribes, and territories, including $130 billion for local governments split evenly between municipalities and counties. This funding will be released in two allotments, half in the next 60 days following enactment of the legislation and the second half 12 months after the first payment.
The $65.1 billion allocated directly to cities, towns and villages is being distributed through a modified Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) formula.  Under the bill, direct funding means: 

1.The $65.1 billion is 100% federal funding that all 19,000 municipalities are entitled to,
2.The $65.1 billion is not co-mingled in any way with state or county funds, and 
3.There are safeguards and penalties in place to discourage state interference or additional state mandates on the use of these funds.  (NLC

What safeguards? So how is it that these governmental entities can mandate the funds designed help them recover from the pandemic be used for a reparations program? The idea was not voted on by Congress, and the funds were to be used for something else entirely. Critics of the idea say that repurposing the funds are a misuse of taxpayer money.

“There are wide disagreements on this topic. To use pandemic spending on something that Congress did not vote for and approve… for localities to say that they’re going to basically repurpose the funds for this, for me, this is outrageous and should not occur.” Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fl (Fox Business)

USA Today reported in May of 2021:

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“A year ago, tax revenue collections nosedived in cities as businesses shuttered during state-ordered lockdowns at the start of the pandemic. Many cities cut government workers and programs. The aid is designed to replenish governments with revenue they lost, allowing mayors to hire cops and firefighters or launch capital projects that were halted.”

Some cities and counties state that they are wanting to use the funds for recovery, not rescue. Others haven’t decided. Some desperate needs have vanished after the pandemic faded. But are they ignoring the needs of one race over another? Or are they pandering to the loud voices instead of the quiet ones? It appears that way:

“The negative impacts of the pandemic include assistance to households and communities while promoting affordable housing, assistance to small businesses and nonprofits…This is not going to be a process that is issuing checks to Black people in Shelby County… the process of community reparations provides an ecosystem to intentionally track and promote Black wealth while providing access to assets and infrastructure.” Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr., Shelby County, TN Sponsor of the $5 million proposal (Fox Business)

A lot of folks are saying this is an “outrageous” use of taxpayer money.  What do you say?



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Faye Higbee

Faye Higbee is the columnist manager for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. She has been writing at Conservative Firing Line since 2013 as well. She is also a published author.

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