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Keeping in touch: Notes from the Mayor

Mayor Lucy VinisThis blog aims to nurture our conversation and understanding of the issues before us. Every week, I will provide a weekly update on the activities in the city government, my activities as mayor, and brief reflections on progress, opportunities and challenges. You are invited to respond with reactions, insights and questions. We do this work together.

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Mar 19

March 19, 2021

Posted on March 19, 2021 at 6:31 PM by Niyah Ross

It has been another hard week of assault.  The shootings in Atlanta reverberate across the country, stoking fear among all Asian people who continue to be targeted by acts of violence.  Our city is rich with the talents and resources of our Asian community, whose members quietly invest in family, business, cultural, and civic life.  We cannot allow this hatred to destroy lives.  The City Council will hold a work session to discuss additional ways the city can protect and support our Asian American, Pacific Islander and all of our BIPOC community in the face of bigotry and racism.

 

This week also marked the first anniversary of our shuttered and shattered lives as a result of COVID-19.  A year ago, most of us thought it would never last this long; and we were grateful that at least the shutdown happened in spring when we could be outdoors.  Here we are – four seasons later – just emerging out of a winter of continued loss, hardship and suffering.  Vaccines are coming – I'm getting mine today – and the American Recovery Act will bring desperately needed funding to support jobs, housing and services.  While we don’t yet know the amount the City will receive or the specific uses that will be fundable, the City’s Community Recovery team has a year of experience in directing new funds where they can be most helpful.  We will be ready to put this new infusion to good use.

 

And finally, homelessness was a profound challenge before the pandemic.  Now the dislocation, disruption and suffering of a burgeoning unsheltered population impacts neighborhoods and businesses across the City.  City Councilors, staff and I are in constant communication with constituents demanding action.  We are struggling to meet the humanitarian and health needs of this large group of people in the midst of a pandemic while at the same time trying to ensure public health and safety for everyone.  A staff team meets weekly to review the options for more reasonable sites where we can allow managed camping.  The City is neither structured nor resourced to adequately meet the need. The City has streets and parks – options beyond that require other property owners to make space available or for the City to purchase land.  I am advocating for increasing investments in outreach and coordination with service providers to better support and manage unsheltered sites. It is hard to see an end to this crisis; but we are working closely with our partners in the County, advocating for support at the state and federal level, and aiming to build a stronger network of services and investments to lift people out of poverty and destitution.