Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza signed the spending plan for housing and infrastructure projects, using money from the gargantuan sum he received from the American Rescue Plan Act, Legal Insurrection reported.
“It goes to support a bunch of different, really important initiatives,” Elorza said.
“But the most important thing is the housing crisis, really the housing affordability crisis in the city.”
The finalized budget devoted almost $31 million to housing, with more than half being specifically earmarked for affordable housing developments. The plan also set aside $10 million for reparations through the Providence “COVID-19 Equities Program.”
A committee has been tasked with deciding how this money is spent.
“Reparations can take a lot of different shapes,” Elorza said.
“We know that $10 million is not enough. We can’t right all the wrongs of the past, but we can take an important first step.”
When asked for specifics, Elorza explained that how the money will be sent out has not yet been decided. Direct cash payments may be a part of the plan.
Elorza expressed hope that these reparations would help build wealth for black families and address discrimination in neighborhoods where black families were either forced to sell their homes or where they were prevented from purchasing homes altogether.
The committee is made up of 13 people. They will be examining reparation work that has been done in other cities, conducing outreach and creating recommendations for ways the city can spend the money to begin “repairing harms.”
“While we know the city alone cannot repair the full scope of harm, today’s action brings us another step closer to addressing the disparities our African heritage and Indigenous residents continue to face,” the mayor said in a written statement.
The mayor did not explain how reparations payments are supposed to relieve the economic stress put on families by the COVID lockdowns.