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Groups Say City Council Was Too Quick To Pass Preliminary Vote On COVID Relief Fund Spending

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The talk on Grant Street this week is all about how the city of Pittsburgh should spend $335 million from the American Rescue Plan.

On Wednesday, council members passed a preliminary vote 7-2 for the spending plan, but some local groups feel the vote happened too soon.

Leaders in the Black community want transparency, more public participation and a postponement of the allocation of those COVID relief dollars.

On Friday, members of the Black Political Empowerment Project, Western Pennsylvania Black Political Assembly and others gathered in Homewood.

They expressed their frustration with the current four-year proposal, which would immediately pour a large portion of the funds into the city's budget.

Civil rights advocates want $200 million in non-emergency funds from city, county and state's chunk of the American Rescue Plan to be reserved for helping rebuild our predominately Black neighborhoods. They want the process paused so their coalition can use its expertise to help guide those funds.

"We don't need to rush this. Some of it may need to be rushed. All of it does not need to be rushed," said Black Political Empowerment Project founder Tim Stevens. "There is a concern that there may have been, may have been, a violation of the state's Sunshine Act on how this was done so quickly."

Advocates believe earmarking some of the funding for their cause would help improve the lives of our dwindling Black population, pointing to studies like a 2020 gender equity report, which found pittsburgh is one of the worst cities for Black women.

Next week members of the Black community and allies will come to Freedom Corner for a march to the City County Building to double down on their demands.

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