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Dream Corps’ ask for the 117th Congress

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C 20515

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader McCarthy, and Minority Leader Schumer:

On behalf of the millions of people in the communities we serve, we urge you to act swiftly at the onset of the 117th Congress to get urgent relief to countless suffering Americans and ensure an equitable and inclusive path to economic recovery for all. COVID-19 has drastically altered the lives, immediate needs, and futures of the American people, especially those in communities of color disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and recession. With your leadership, we are confident that our country can rebuild better than before—to create new pathways to prosperity for people who have been excluded from opportunity and recovery resources, and lift up those who have lost jobs, businesses, homes, and loved ones as a result of COVID-19.

In order for our nation’s recovery to be truly comprehensive and equitable to all Americans, we urge you to pass legislation that invests in community recovery and supports racial equity.

 

Economic Opportunities and Community Investment

  1. Extend paid sick and family medical leave to protect public health.
  2. Ensure a moratorium on evictions and utility shutoffs and incentives for utilities to forgive utility bill debt and negotiate reasonable payment plans for low-income households.
  3. Take immediate legislative action to ensure that the 600,000 people returning home from prison in 2021 and the millions more impacted by a criminal record have access to jobs, housing, and meaningful federal assistance, including creating a pathway for the sealing of federal records, incentivizing a moratorium on the collection of criminal justice-related fees and fines, and prioritizing access to federal loans and benefits.

 

Good, Green Jobs

  1. Foster a prison-to-green jobs pipeline by funding and expanding the Second Chance Act grant program to ensure that people returning home from incarceration in 2021 have a viable pathway to good green jobs.
  2. Expand weatherization assistance programs to cover 1 million households, including extending supplemental support to upgrade unsafe housing, which will create tens of thousands of jobs, save money, and improve health for households struggling to pay their utility bills.

 

Clean Mobility

  1. Boost funding for safe, reliable public transit that protects workers and riders, and provides essential and clean mobility options for millions of transit-dependent Americans.
  2. Invest in pollution-free transit and school buses and medium and heavy duty trucks through grants and low and zero-interest loans, to improve health, reduce pollution and support domestic jobs in the innovative, clean tech economy.

 

Infrastructure

  1. Jumpstart the economic recovery with legislation that modernizes and upgrades our broken transportation and energy infrastructure, especially in communities hardest hit by COVID-19, many of whom have faced underinvestment and decaying infrastructure for decades.
  2. Invest in community climate initiatives that provide locally controlled funding for clean mobility and energy projects with local hiring. Allocate funding directly to local communities to direct and use to best meet their mobility, economic, and health needs.
  3. Restore, update and expand the Lifeline program to ensure high speed broadband internet connectivity in addition to phone service. Increase broadband subsidies to provide meaningful financial relief, and increase promotion of Lifeline to eligible and newly-eligible households.
  4. Increase Coronavirus Relief Fund grants to state, local, and tribal governments to expand access to high speed broadband internet and ensure every student has access to the hardware and software needed to be successful in virtual learning.

 

Racial Equity and Justice

  1. Ensure equitable investment in minority owned businesses and hiring from underrepresented populations, including people of color, veterans, people with disabilities, and people who were formerly incarcerated.
  2. Take steps to end the war on drugs, which has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color, by reforming harsh mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses, removing Marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, and ending the remaining disparity in sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine.
  3. Prioritize rehabilitation over punishment in our prisons and across the justice system by leveraging federal grants to reduce state prison populations, increasing funding for alternatives to incarceration, and taking bold steps to prioritize rehabilitation in the federal Bureau of Prisons.
  4. End police violence and abuses of power, especially against Black and Brown communities, by holding law enforcement officers accountable and restoring faith and trust between communities and police.

 

Despite the issues that divide us, the large majority of Americans agree on this—it is time to end the partisan tug-of-war holding our country back and come together to create solutions that carry us forward. We urge you to pass these reforms and policies to end this era of pain and suffering and lead our country into an era of healing and hope for all.  We ask that every member of the 117th Congress prioritize the American people, and take action to pass these priorities in the first days of the new legislative session.

Sincerely,
Nisha Anand, Dream Corps CEO
Michelle Romero, Dream Corps Green For All National Director
Kasheef Wyzard, Dream Corps TECH National Programming Initiatives Director
Michelle Ferguson, Dream Corps TECH National Community Relations Director
Alex Gudich, Dream Corps #cut50 Interim Director

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