Nearly $400M heading to Milwaukee to help city recover from pandemic, officials discuss how funding will be spent

Posted at 10:21 PM, Sep 23, 2021

MILWAUKEE — During a virtual meeting Thursday, Milwaukee officials laid out their plan to help the city recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes $394 million from the federal government, and they want it to be distributed equally.

"We have committed to making sure that we use racial equity in determining how to spend our federal stimulus dollars," said Nikki Purvis, Chief Equity Officer for the City of Milwaukee​.

Funds received from the American Rescue Plan Act can be used for a number of things, including government services, premium pay for eligible workers, and the economic impacts of COVID-19.

"Part of this is to deal with also the negative impacts of the racial inequities in the COVID disease itself," said ​Dennis Yaccarino, the budget director for the city.

So far, the city says it's identified eight funding priorities such as affordable housing, city services, job training and early childhood education.

"Early childhood education could be directed for daycare or any help to help the crisis with the level of educators in the community," said Yaccarino.

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As well as infrastructure, broadband access, small business development and funding initiatives that will keep neighborhoods safe.

"Some of the funds could be used for violence prevention and things like that," said Yaccarino.

While some residents were on board with the city's priorities, many questions still remained, like how officials would help small businesses, and if there would be premium pay for city workers.

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"What efforts will be made to assist black and brown businesses in Milwaukee?" asked Keesha Sutton.

"We are going to focus the business programs on those areas that were most affected by COVID, so many of those areas will include a number of minority businesses," said Yaccarino.

There will be another hearing on Oct. 15 at 9 a.m., and then a final vote on Nov. 2.

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