This is a guest post by Robin Arredondo-Savage, Councilmember from Tempe, Arizona.
The continued federal government shutdown poses serious concerns for the city of Tempe. At risk are several housing and human services programs, the construction of Tempe Streetcar and support for public safety initiatives. To manage the potential damaging effects of a prolonged shutdown, we are currently drafting a contingency plan to ensure that the health and welfare needs of our community are met as best we can.
At this writing, the city is focusing on how local programs will operate with the loss of funding from the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Transportation (USDOT) and Homeland Security. Arguably, the biggest impact to our residents will be felt in housing and human services. More than 1,000 households will be affected if they do not receive their housing allowances — leaving them vulnerable to eviction. Rents are paid through February, but beyond that there is uncertainty. The loss of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding would also put our local homeless services program in jeopardy. This program provides links to those experiencing homelessness to shelters, permanent housing and other social services that enable them to become self-sufficient. Furthermore, a prolonged shutdown will negatively affect families who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. This would create a food security problem and burden the social services support network dramatically.
Tempe Streetcar, which is currently under construction, will also be delayed if millions of dollars in federal funding from USDOT are placed on hold. This would suspend the project indefinitely and put skilled workers out of jobs. USDOT also provides funds for local transportation infrastructure projects in Tempe that improve streets and mitigate traffic congestion and air pollution.
Additionally, public safety and individuals with disabilities will be affected without federal grant dollars. Public safety grants return local tax revenue back to cities and have been allocated in the city’s budget. They support special training programs that enhance our firefighters’ hazardous material response and medical rescue teams, as well as local security and criminal intelligence data collection for threat assessments and crime fighting. These lost funds will harm our efforts to keep our residents safe. For residents who are physically disabled, their access and safety in city parks will be restricted because CDBG funds are used to make Americans with Disabilities Act improvements to these public amenities.
Tempe has worked hard to make progress in building a strong community that is safe, accessible, offers modern transit options and provides a bridge for those to overcome tough odds. The effects of an extended federal government shutdown could unravel the fabric of an interconnected community system that produces positive outcomes and advances the well-being of our residents. A shutdown disrupts the ability of cities to deliver on what they promise all residents – to enhance the quality of their lives.
How is your city dealing with the impacts of the federal shutdown? Share how the uncertainty in funding for this impacts your city on social media using #shutdownstories and tagging @leagueofcities or emailing your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Robin Arredondo-Savage is currently serving in her third term on the Tempe City Council. She is Chair of the National League of Cities’ Human Development Committee, and a member of the NLC Board of Directors. Additionally, she’s a board member of the Hispanic Elected Local Officials an NLC Constituency Group. Locally, she serves on the Board of Directors of Valley Metro, the regional public transportation agency, PHX East Valley Partnership, Tempe Tourism, and the Tempe Coalition which promotes community education and awareness to reduce substance abuse among youth. A U.S. Army veteran, Robin served on the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board for eight years including two years as President of the Board and was past Board Chair of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce. A principal partner in a small business, Robin is an advocate for fiscally responsible and responsive city government designed to protect Tempe’s unique quality of life through smart development, neighborhoods, schools and a strong human services network.