HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A mixture of 42 organizations and churches sent a letter to Governor Kay Ivey outlining their hopes for how the state will invest American Rescue Plan money. Alabama Arise, a non-profit focusing on poverty, says the bipartisan letter asks the state to think big when spending money.
“We’ve never had the resources to tackle things at this scale,” said Jim Carnes, the Policy Director for Alabama Arise.
Carnes says several organizations felt the need to send the letter because they’ve spent decades trying to make dents in some of Alabama’s biggest problems. They feel the federal relief money is a rare opportunity to help tackle several issues.
“Think big. Go public (be transparent) with the effort to acknowledge to Alabamians that we have an opportunity like we’ve never seen before,” said Carnes.
Alabama will get 4 million dollars over the course of 3-years. The relief money is intended to help states recover from the pandemic. Alabama Arise says for that reason, any investment should be made with health in mind.
“Public transportation has a tremendous health impact on low-income communities. Similar for housing,” said Carnes.
Health aside, Alabama Arise hopes Governor Ivey and legislators consider upgrading out-of-date technology in state offices.
“We have a bunch of state agencies that have their own antiquated computer systems that don’t talk to each other,” said Carnes.
The organizations that signed the letter do not want to see the state return to a pre-pandemic status-quo.
Alabama Arise says a number of state trust funds for housing and health have been established but have little to no money in the trusts. If the trusts are filled with relief money, according to Carnes, grants could incentivize development in communities across the state.
“Provide grants to builders and community organizations that want to build affordable housing, renovate affordable housing..” said Carnes.
News 19 reached out to Governor Ivey’s office to see if she has received, read or is aware of the letter. A spokesperson from the office didn’t comment, instead telling News 19 to reach out to a non-elected official who isn’t named in the letter.
You can read the letter here.