ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren unveiled her 2021 State of the City Thursday night which includes the Equity and Recovery Agenda — or ERA Agenda.
The agenda is a strategy to drive Rochester’s post-pandemic economic recovery with initiatives that recognize and reverse the effects of the historic racism and institutional inequality, as well as, prepare for a post-pandemic recovery.
“We must act now to address these disparities, and make sure the Rochester that emerges from the pandemic finally delivers the equity our citizens deserve,” Warren wrote in the document. “We must seize this opportunity to confront the lasting effects of slavery, legal segregation as well as institutionalized racism and structural inequality. We must recognize that this is the time for a new era of equity and recovery.”
Due to the pandemic, On Thursday, the mayor released the first part of several videos of the 2021 State of the City, called “State of the City Chapter 1 – Boiling Point.”
The 10-minute video touches on the after effects of the pandemic and what the death of Daniel Prude has exposed in our city, in terms of structural racism, inequities and more.
In the video, the mayor details her answer: the ERA Agenda.
“The ERA agenda is truly about forcing the system to change and recognizing that racism and sexism plays a major part in why this community and the people that live in this community have suffered.”
The ERA proposes 11 initiatives to confront four issues that reveal the greatest manifestations of racism and inequality: Housing, Crime, Jobs and Education:
Creating the City of Rochester “Housing First” Trust Fund
Recognizing that too many families must spend a disproportionate share of their incomes on housing expenses, the ERA calls for the creation of a self-perpetuating trust fund to direct revenue toward programs that promote home ownership and prevent the catastrophic consequences of evictions. The fund would combine resources from the government, education and the private sectors to stabilize the area’s housing market and help families establish sustainable housing budgets.
Create the “ERA Emergency Fund” to Prevent Families from Falling Into Poverty
An ERA Emergency Fund will provide micro grants of up to $2,000 to help individuals and families prevent temporary financial setbacks, such as unforeseen medical expenses, lost work time or vehicle repairs, from becoming life-changing events. Both the Emergency and Housing funds would be paid for from a variety innovative sources, including a tax on legalized marijuana sales and revenue agreements with non-profit entities, including the University of Rochester.
Create an Office of Neighborhood Safety – A Whole City Approach to Reducing Violence
An Office of Neighborhood Safety would coordinate and dedicate resources from several Departments, including the Rochester Police Department and the Department of Recreation and Human Services, toward violence reduction. Mayor Warren will convene a task force develop a plan for the new Office in time for inclusion in 2021-22 City budget.
Reforming our Police Department and Honoring the Life of Daniel Prude
Much needed police reform would allow the tragic death of Daniel Prude to serve as a catalyst for much-needed and long-overdue police reform. This reform is already underway with the appointment of Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan, the call for a police-residency requirement and the creation of the Office of Crisis Intervention Services.
Make Every Elementary School a Neighborhood Community School
The ERA agenda renews the call for the City, Rochester City School District, Monroe County and others to ensure that the full range of community school services are available at every District “neighborhood elementary school,” starting with School 22 in the Upper Falls Neighborhood. This proposal builds on the requirement issued by the RCSD’s assigned monitor’s direction to develop a feasibility plan by May to make every elementary school a neighborhood school.
Leverage Our Investments in Infrastructure to Ensure and Expand Employment for City Residents
Building on the success of her efforts to direct more City spending on roads, buildings and other infrastructure toward Minority and Women Owned Businesses (MWBE), Mayor Warren intends to increase the City’s MWBE public works procurement goals. Since 2018, when the goals were last increased, Rochester has increased its MWBE contracts by 300%, to $27 million.
Valuing Those Who Are Caring For Us and Our Loved Ones – Providing A Living Wage For Health Care Workers
In 2021 and beyond, Mayor Warren will elevate and amplify the call for state legislation that mandates a $15 minimum wage for health aide and nursing assistant positions so the pay for their work reflects its value to the community and those they serve. Mayor Warren noted this proposal has a personal element as her mother, who recently passed away, was a Home Health Aide for most of her career.
Expanding Urban Farming to Create Entrepreneurs and Fight Food Deserts – RocCity HomeGrown
Mayor Warren has tasked the City’s Office of Community Wealth Building to establish RocCity HomeGrown, an initiative to establish urban agriculture to help families grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables or create small food businesses. The initiative would create an urban-farm database of quality parcels suitable for community gardens and develop programs to address startup costs and develop neighborhood markets.
Create a New Americans Advisory Council
Recognizing the city’s growing population of residents from other nation’s communities, a New Americans Advisory Council (NAAC) will improve communication with the traditional and emerging leadership among these communities to improve the delivery of City services. Mayor Warren has tapped Bijaya Khadka, an outspoken advocate for local refugee communities, to serve as founding chair.
Create an “Arts Equity Fund” – 1% for the Arts to Support Diverse Voices
Dedicating 1% of all capital project investments to an Arts Equity Fund will generate hundreds of thousands of dollars to commission local artists to create public art that promotes equity and inspires empathy and understanding. The fund would be administered by a City Arts Commission. Working Towards a More Sustainable Future – Equity Through Environmental Stewardship Mayor Warren will continue and expand upon an aggressive “green agenda,” to reduce the City’s contribution to Climate Change and help the community become more resilient to the growing number of climate events – such as severe winter storms, extended heat waves and flooding – that lead to economic disruption. Efforts will help residents reduce their utility bills and encourage investment in sustainable infrastructure.
You can watch the full video below: