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Mayor Cooper proposes $10 million plan to help city rebound

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Posted at 9:13 PM, Mar 16, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Mayor John Cooper is proposing an investment of more than $10 million to help Nashville Rebound from the pandemic and much more.

In some way, this one-time grant will likely impact you as long as you live in Metro Nashville. At least that’s what it looks like on the surface of this new plan that would still need Metro Council approval. Mayor Cooper’s Local Support Grant takes state funding which any other time would go to shore up the city’s budget, but not this time. Mayor Cooper says he plans to use this money for the following:

  • $5 million for the city’s Barnes Fund for affordable housing
  • $1 million to small and micro business recovery
  • $2 million to support local nonprofit partners working to end gun and other violent crimes
  • $1 million sent to Metro Public Health to support behavioral health resources
  • $500,000 to support 2nd Avenue recovery
  • $500,000 for Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. to recruit diverse and inclusive COVID-safe events.

Most of these concerns were made more apparent during the pandemic, as neighborhoods and business owners struggled financially. 108 local businesses are currently on the waitlist at Pathway Lending for recovery assistance grants. 40 percent of their funding so far has gone to minority-owned businesses.

“They are queued up, ready to go, but it doesn’t have enough money and this helps fund that,” Cooper said.

Mayor Cooper says the city is in a much better place now to reinvest into programs like these and the Barnes Fund. The city had to suspend its typical contribution to the program designed to create affordable housing, because of last year’s financial downturn.

“We’ve gone a long way to redress those problems and put the city back on a stable financial footing so this grant doesn’t have to go to repair our broken balance sheet. Now we can use it to affirmatively do good in our community,” Cooper said.

At least $2 million will create grants for nonprofit groups in Nashville working to improve public safety through their community outreach. Mayor Cooper and others believe this will fulfill recommendations from his Policing Policy Commission.

Sharon Roberson is a member of the commission and said, “partnering with and investing in the groups working to make our neighborhoods safer was one of the Policing Policy Commission’s most important recommendations. I want to thank Mayor Cooper for making a major down payment on that recommendation.”

2021 began with a spike in violent crime and Mayor Cooper says this funding should find its way to the nonprofits making our neighborhoods safer.

Another $1 million would be set aside for behavioral health concerns. Funding would go to Metro Public Health who would then assess the city’s behavioral health capacity. Mayor Cooper says mental health is an area we need to spend more time talking about.

“With COVID, people being shut in, feeling isolated, the country divided, a pandemic that we didn’t know that much about, we clearly see a lot of need there,” said Cooper.

Services like the mobile crisis unit could see a few improvements with the funding which include providing a behavioral health specialist to respond to crises. The result according to the mayor would be a reduction in pressure on police and other emergency personnel.

Finally, the mayor’s plan will also include $500,000 in funding for the 2nd Avenue recovery following the Christmas Day bombing. Metro Planning would use half the money for capital planning recommendations and “other visualizations to help residents imagine a future historic 2nd avenue.”

Metro Public Works would use the other half of the funding to restore publicly-owned infrastructures like roadways, lighting, and other streetscaping.