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Oakland Equity Caucus Budget Approved, $26.9M in COVID-19 Funding for Most Impacted Communities, Redirects Police Funding

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OAKLAND, Calif. – On Tuesday, June 23, Oakland City Council approved the “Community First Budget” proposed by Finance Chair Lynette Gibson McElhaney, and Equity Caucus partners Vice Mayor Reid, Councilmembers Noel Gallo and Loren Taylor. Informed by Oakland’s 2018 Equity Indicators Report, this budget aims to guide the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic while addressing the Community’s demands for a transformation in public safety and policing.

During this meeting, Councilmember McElhaney and the Equity Caucus made clear, through their proposed policy directives, their commitment to reducing OPD’s usage of the City’s general-purpose funds by 50% as alternative methods for community safety are scaled to meet the safety needs of residents.

This reduction is paired with investments in the Oakland Department of Violence Prevention, which Councilmember McElhaney championed in 2017, a $1.35M investment in alternative safety measures like MACRO, a program designed to dispatch health workers instead of police for mental health service calls, and $200,000 in further funding to the Oakland Police Commission, the strongest and most independent police commission in the country.

“As a Black woman, I have lived in police terror and do not have the luxury to talk about it academically,” said Councilmember McElhaney. “The call to defund and reimage policing is right, but we also owe it to the community to really get it done right this time before we see another black man murdered on video or another black child killed in our streets due to community violence. ”

In this “Community First Budget”, the Oakland Equity Caucus also increased funding for COVID-19 measures demanded by community members and organizations. To ensure accountability and the equitable use of taxpayer dollars, this budget also included directives that would ensure issues like homelessness, community policing, senior support, and youth development are better prioritized in the City Administration structure.

“Amidst this pandemic and this moment of deep pain, our workers and our community are counting on us to get this money out immediately,” said Councilmember McElhaney. “This is our opportunity to throw a lifeline to our businesses systematically excluded from federal funding, our artists going hungry, and our community organizations fighting tooth and nail against COVID-19 with their own funds.”

Some of these investments in the community include:

  • $28.3M to expand residential anti-displacement funding
  • $9.5M for citywide broadband to bridge the digital divide and ensure access to learning for youth and community members from historically marginalized communities
  • $4M to support small businesses
  • $1.8M to support artists, arts organizations, cultural institutions, and youth programming
  • $700,000 to support Oakland’s Multi-Ethnic Chambers of Commerce and entrepreneurship efforts
  • $500,000 for community-led COVID-19 relief initiatives utilizing credible messengers
  • $400,000 to support workforce development programs for neighborhood beautification

The Equity Caucus delivered approximately $30M to Oakland’s Flatland communities without losses to service or layoffs to workers.

“We are proud to have been a leading voice standing shoulder to shoulder with our labor partners to avert layoffs and service reductions,” said Councilmember McElhaney.

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