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Community organizations call for more transparency from Common Council regarding Rescue Plan funds

Luz Velez- PUSH Buffalo
Thomas O'Neil-White

Community-based organizations in the City of Buffalo are worried underserved communities will get overlooked when it comes to allocating American Rescue Plan funds. They are calling on the Common Council to return from their recess and hold more public hearings on the matter.

PUSH Buffalo Silver member and community leader Luz Velez harangued the Common Council Thursday morning outside of City Hall.

Harper Bishop- PUSH Buffalo
Thomas O'Neil-White

“They are telling us that we don't matter that our opinion doesn't mean anything,” she said. “And when I look at that, I'm a voter. And I'll be the first one to say, Hey, listen, if you're not paying attention to me, and I'm helping you to get in and to sign you know, canvassing and all kinds of bullshit like that, you know what? You don't need to be in office.”

Velez and members from PUSH Buffalo and other community-based organizations are calling on the Common Council to return from their recess and hold a more rigorous, participatory and accessible process to determine how best to use the over $330 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Accessibility and transparency are not things the Common Council has presented to City of Buffalo residents, says PUSH Executive Harper Bishop.

“They've touted their leadership around this process,” Bishop said. “And really what it's amounted to is one virtual meeting that had less than 10 people participate.”

Saidot Iyabo- Justice For Migrant Families
Thomas O'Neil-White

Bishop said the Common Council shouldn’t be on recess when there are people in the city in dire need of these federal funds going towards programs like anti-poverty initiatives and immigration services.

Saidot Iyabo an immigrant from the African nation of Togo, has a plea to the Common Council.

“We are not looking for the handout,” she said. “We are looking for the “hand up” to help the community out.”

The City has an Aug. 31 deadline to submit a final allocation plan to the United States Treasury Department. The Common Council reconvenes again in late August.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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