Austin, TX— Earlier this afternoon, the Austin City Council unanimously voted in favor of Items 40 and 49, replenishing the RISE fund to include an additional $12 million for direct financial assistance to disproportionately impacted Austin residents. The move comes after rising pressure from community advocates and members to replenish the RISE fund but fell short of the demands from community organizations asking for at least $70 million for direct financial assistance. The new resolution only allocates $12 million for direct assistance to people facing financial hardship.
This week, more than 1,400 Austin residents signed a petition to Austin City Council calling for the City Manager to allocate at least $70 million into the RISE fund.
In March, the Equity Office awarded a total of $2 million to local community-based groups and nonprofits. The $2M came from the RISE Funding and was distributed as direct financial assistance in the form of ACH deposits. This was considered a bold move by many community organizations, and as the $2 million were distributed to 1,000 families in the span of 72 hours, it was seen as the most equitable, efficient, and direct way to help the communities in Austin that have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19.
Earlier this week, in collaboration with Communities of Color United, Grassroots Leadership coordinated a car action in front of Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk’s residential home. More than 100 cars drove past his home for more than an hour calling for funds to be diverted from the Austin police department to funds like RISE.
Maria L, ICE Out of Austin member: “Aun con este dinero no es suficiente. Muchas familias todavía quedarán desprotegidas.Este voto no es un voto para la comunidad.” / “Even with this money it will not be enough. A lot of families will still be left unprotected. This was not a vote for the community.”
Chantel Pridgon, Texas Advocates for Justice organizer: “We can’t deny this is a win for families affected during this pandemic, but City Council needs to do better. It’s sad we continue to fight for our communities to have funds when City Council continues to overly fund a police department that is racist in its DNA and leadership. City council should stop investing APD as it continues to incite violence and further widen the distrust with our communities and instead invest in communities disproportionally impacted by covid-19 and racist institutions.”
Paula Rojas, Communities of Color United member: “When we asked for City Council to invest in equity by allocating at least $70 million in direct financial assistance to our communities, their “equitable” response was to give $12 million. Every year, more and more money goes to the Austin Police Department and we have been fighting tooth and nail to get a crumb in comparison. City Council has repeatedly and consistently failed our communities, providing no safety, relief, or health benefit to the people who need help the most right now. It’s a shame they didn’t step up now.”
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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation, and criminalization are things of the past. Follow us @Grassroots_News.
Maria Reza, firstname.lastname@example.org