ST. LOUIS – St. Louis City Mayor Tishaura Jones and aldermen are hoping funds allocated directly into families and the community can help the area transition out of the pandemic and address lingering effects.
The $80 million Direct Relief Plan was designed around key elements that stand true to Mayor Jone’s vision for the City of St. Louis; focusing on public health, safety, and economic relief.
“This proposal stabilizes and protects our neighborhoods which are still suffering the COVID-19 pandemic. Most pressing is getting shots in arms,” Jones said.
More than $6 million will go towards public health initiatives. As of June 14, only 37.8% of city residents have started the vaccination process. Approximately $1 million of those funds will be invested into mobile vaccination clinics that will bring vaccines to people’s doorsteps.
Rumors of a lottery to incentivize vaccinations in the area have been circling around. Jones did not confirm if they would move forward with the idea.
Governor Mike Parson advised against it, saying, “We went out there trying to encourage people to get a vaccine. Now when you start giving away incentives to do that, I think you really got to think through that because whats it going to be next year if its something else?”
Economic relief for families and small businesses was a main priority in allocating funds. More than $15 million to rental, utility, mortgage and property tax assistance. More than $20 million will go towards emergency housing, permanent supportive housing, wrap around services, case management, and community outreach.
“Poverty, housing, and instability, lack of access to mental health services, scarce jobs and opportunities for our youth, disinvestment and the like, these are the real root causes of crime plaguing our city,” she said.
The mayor said she plans to use every tool available in the city’s tool box to address these problems.
She also said this funding is just the beginning. This is just part of the $517 million in federal aid St. Louis will be receiving in the coming years. Even with the $80 million proposed plan she says St. Louis still has $170 million in its piggy bank.
Main Highlights of Direct Relief Plan:
$6.75 million in public health infrastructure to get people vaccinated with mobile vaccine clinics and community canvasses to meet St. Louisians in their neighborhoods.
$58 million in direct, urgent economic relief, including housing and utility assistance, support for unhoused, immediate cash assistance, and public benefits navigators to help residents connect with these services.
$11.5 million to address the root causes of crime and improve public safety through increased funding for violence intervention programs and youth programming and jobs to keep youth engaged and safe.
Jones made revisions to the proposal to include an additional $3 million to community violence prevention programs and $1 million to youth jobs and programming. Over $11 million in funding will go towards creating safer communities.
Jones mentioned the root causes of crime that plague the St. Louis community, such as poverty, housing, instability, lack of access to mental health services to name a few, will be immediately addressed through the Direct Relief Program.
Direct relief is needed to get people back on their feet, the mayor said.
“We want to keep families in their homes and the lights on,” she said.
Jones said as the eviction crisis looms over the city, her proposed plan includes $15 million in housing and utility assistance.
“When we use these dollars in the long term to right the historic wrongs that have held St. Louis back and prevented us from thriving, but in immediate future, our plan today addresses the most pressing issues in the community while laying the ground work for more funding down the road,” Jones said.