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Oakland City Council’s Equity Caucus Allocate $2m for Health, Economic, and Food Access Disparities

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Oakland City Council adopted a Fiscal Year 20-21 midcycle budget Tuesday with amendments that included CARES Act funding allocations to provide critical resources to residents and businesses for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to community-based organizations that serve Oakland’s most vulnerable Black and Latinx residents living in the East and West Oakland flatlands.

The legislation was led by Loren Taylor and co-authored with Vice-Mayor Larry Reid, Councilmembers Noel Gallo and Lynette Gibson McElhaney. The Resolution was unanimously passed by the Council.

On June 23, 2020, the City Council adopted a Fiscal Year 20-21 midcycle budget with amendments that included CARES Act funding allocations to provide critical resources to residents and businesses.

The City Council granted $500,000 to the Oakland Frontline Healers to address health disparities in the most affected communities in Oakland. The Oakland Frontline Healers is a collaboration of 30 large non-profits and volunteer organizations that have been working together to address COVID-19 vulnerabilities in the Black Community, from food delivery to case management and shelter stays.

In order to address food insecurity and entrepreneurship, $150,000 was allocated to the City’s Digital Arts and Culinary Academy (DACA) to bring the existing commercial kitchen in compliance with COVID-19 requirements as well as other state and local standards. The upgrades will provide space for food entrepreneurs to reduce the cost of serving our community and provide nutrition classes. In addition, to address the inadequate access to low-cost healthy foods, the Black Cultural Zone was granted $150,000 to establish an ongoing Farmer’s Market in East Oakland.

 In recognition of the need for business and technical assistance, $700,000 was granted to each of 7 organizations that work with our traditionally harder to reach and least capitalized businesses. Organizations include the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, Latino Chamber of Commerce, Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, Unity Council, East Oakland Entrepreneurial Forum, and OCCUR.

To address the high unemployment rates that have dramatically increased in the wake of COVID-19, the caucus invested in innovative workforce development programs. $500,000 of those workforce development funds were granted to The Brothers & Sisters BarberCosmo Academy. The academy program provides affordable barbering and cosmetology training to unemployed, under-employed, and formerly incarcerated Oakland residents. With the ultimate goal of students either working in a salon or owning their own business, BSBCA teaches hard and soft skills of barbering and running a business. BSBCA will incorporate training on how to be COVID-19 compliant.

Spearitwurx was granted $100,000, as an employer of local artists and culture keepers that curate arts and culture programming to supplement income loss faced by East Oakland artists.

The budget also included $6 million in small business support including a specific allocation of $2 million to small businesses in the lowest income and most underserved regions of Oakland. Federal CARES Act funding resources are intended to be deployed by Dec. 31, 2020.

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