Assessment reports post COVID-19 in Minneapolis, MN and Hackensack, NJ

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By: Jeb Brugmann — Founding Principal, Resilient Cities Catalyst

In the first lockdown months of the COVID-19 pandemic, I shared a macro-level perspective on the economic resilience challenges that would be highlighted in the United States, and in other countries with chronic and growing geographic income disparities. The assessment focused in particular on conditions in thousands of chronically distressed U.S. low-income neighborhoods, which the ensuing pandemic would further lay bare.

Within that context, in May 2020 I began preparing a framework for assessing economic recovery challenges and resilience-building opportunities at the individual neighborhood scale. That work continues.


The Questions We Should be Asking is a new series by RCC founding principal Andrew Salkin that examines the most pressing issues facing cities today by taking a closer look at how city priorities are reflected in budgets. This first edition looks at return on investment and transparency in police budgets and asks what could be achieved if some of those resources were diverted elsewhere. In part two of the series we’ll look at public transportation, why it loses so much money and whether or not it should be free.

Part I: Police Budgets

Show me the money — What’s your ROI?

Return on Investment — a topic not often associated with the ongoing conversations that have swept the nation around defunding local police departments. Like many others I have wondered if sinking more money into current police programs is truly returning the service we seek — safer communities. …


Embedding Systems Change to Build Back Equitably

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By: Corinne LeTourneau — Founding Principal, Resilient Cities Catalyst

The COVID-19 crisis in the US reveals what many already knew; our systems are failing vulnerable populations and people of color. The statistics are staggering. Hospitalization rates were highest among Native American, Black, and Hispanic and LatinX populations. Race and income have largely determined who lives and dies at the hands of COVID-19.

In the country’s largest cities, the virus disproportionately struck nearly all minority groups.

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Compounding the stress and angst of losing loved ones, communities of color are seeing a disproportionate share of permanent business closings and job losses. Between February and April, 40% of Black-owned businesses shuttered, while 17% of white-owned businesses closed, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. And Bureau of Labor Statistics data through April showed joblessness for the Black community at 17% versus 12% among whites over the same time. …


A roadmap to inclusive and sustainable recovery

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Photo by Elvert Barnes

By: Andrew Salkin — Founding Principal, Resilient Cities Catalyst

Pushed to violence, locked indoors, too afraid to seek treatment for common ailments, or unable to afford treatment for life-threatening ones — America’s urban residents and communities are reeling from the impact of successive shocks and cascading structural failures. Communities are protesting to protect themselves from systemic racism and police violence. Protesters wear masks to protect themselves from another unseen killer. America is heartbroken and sick. Americans are outraged and dying.

Civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are intertwined, as COVID-19 has laid bare America’s systemic failures and inequalities. Historic and systemic racism made communities of color more vulnerable to COVID-19. They have died in greater numbers, suffered more loss, borne more of the economic burden. George Floyd’s death poured fuel on a fire lit centuries ago. COVID-19 provides kindling. But behind these seemingly unconnected disasters are lessons we can glean from a universally shared experience — the COVID-19 pandemic — to tackle the inevitable, intertwined crises we will face in the future. …


Fortifying City Budgets During COVID-19 and Beyond

Coronavirus will have long-lasting ripple effects across the global economy, including devastating blows to municipal budgets. But, through careful and deliberate use of limited resources, while embracing creativity and leadership, cities may be able to do more with less.

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By: Anna Friedman — Associate Director, Resilient Cities Catalyst

As the coronavirus pandemic effects continue to ripple across the global economy, one of the long-term consequences that city residents will feel for years to come is the devastating blow to municipal budgets. With anticipated revenues plummeting amid escalating expenditures related to coronavirus response, a recent survey conducted by the United States Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities of almost 2,500 cities found that 90 percent of U.S. municipalities — including virtually all large cities — will not be able to balance their budgets. …


The multiple systemic stresses compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic underscore the importance of an oft overlooked piece of critical urban infrastructure — the complex ecosystem of non-profit organizations and government agencies working with cities’ most vulnerable residents.

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By: Paul Nelson — Founding Principal, Resilient Cities Catalyst

While we have much to learn about the full breadth and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that the burden of the disease — like with so many disasters — is falling disproportionately on cities’ most vulnerable residents. Seniors, low-wage workers, people of color, public housing residents, and immigrants are all at higher risk of both COVID-19 exposure and its cascading negative effects. The contributing factors for this increased risk are legion — ranging from long-standing health disparities to the lack of a social safety net; from inadequate housing and access to food; to the spatial mismatch forcing low-wage workers to commute. And as the pandemic progresses, it is laying bare the full spectrum of structural inequities underpinning COVID-19’s terrible toll on certain communities among us. Local governments here in the U.S. and around the world have struggled to stem the tide of COVID-19 among these at-risk groups. To mitigate further spread and suffering, adequately respond during the crisis, and set the stage for a more resilient and equitable recovery for these vulnerable residents, local governments will need to marshal the resources of a critical, distributed and unseen city system — the intricate web of government agencies and nonprofit organizations serving vulnerable communities. …


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By Sam Carter, Founding Principal — Resilient Cities Catalyst

The COVID-19 crisis is pushing cities to their limits. Human and capital resources are nearing exhaustion, healthcare systems are overwhelmed, financial strain is laying waste to family incomes and stimulus packages alike. Across the country, low income urban residents are disproportionately bearing the weight of these compounding crises as COVID-19 exposes our most stark inequalities. Even before the pandemic hit, cities were under financial stress and grappling with a latticework of challenges related to housing, equity, transportation, and the economy. The immediate response to COVID-19 has been all-consuming, pushing aside many other critical issues. The waves are crashing, and we are just barely keeping our head above water. …


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By Jeb Brugmann, Founding Principal — Resilient Cities Catalyst

Cities and counties across the United States have begun planning on how to re-start their local economies. Many have never been made more acutely aware of their economic vulnerabilities. This is a critical time for city leaders and business communities to assess their vulnerabilities objectively and squarely. Every single measure to re-start the economy is not only a chance to limit further losses, it is also a chance to build and invest in a more resilient future for local households and employers.

Even cities that suffered severe fallout from the 2008 financial crisis or from recent extreme weather events are experiencing a kind of systemic, global, uniquely 21st century vulnerability that is new. When will unemployed residents be able to start spending again? Will the local restaurant sector recover? Will we see further long-term decline of Main Street small business communities, and accelerated on-line shopping? What will be the long-term implications for the local tax base? …


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By Michael Berkowitz

Last week, a group of former 100 Resilient Cities executives and founders, including myself, launched Resilient Cities Catalyst, a new nonprofit comprised of urban practitioners and resilience experts with deep experience working in cities around the world. Through RCC, we hope to expand the universe of actors focused on urban resilience, rooted in the lessons and expertise from 100RC.

In just a few days, urbanists and planners will turn their attention to Abu Dhabi, site of the 10th World Urban Forum — the next significant opportunity to continue fostering a conversation on urban resilience. …


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Dear Friends,

Today we are launching Resilient Cities Catalyst (RCC), a new non-profit led by six members of the 100RC executive team and made up of urban practitioners and resilience experts with deep experience working in cities around the world.

When we founded 100 Resilient Cities in 2013, we knew that our efforts to help cities fundamentally remake themselves in the face of climate change, rapid urbanization, and globalization would require a decades-long effort.

Although our urban experience gives us much to be excited about, we also saw many examples of cities and their partners approaching issues in siloed, short-term ways. …

About

Resilient Cities Catalyst

Catalytic change to help cities solve their most pressing challenges.

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