COVID-19 is an unprecedented crisis that demands a sharp departure from business as usual.
COVID-19 has devastated urban communities and economies and exposed deep structural inequities, reflected in the disparate scale of lives, jobs, and homes lost and the greater risk of eviction and long-term economic insecurity among communities of color and other marginalized people. Simply restoring a pre-pandemic reality is not acceptable. Just and resilient recovery planning must address the historic injustices that predate this crisis, while meeting emergency needs and preparing communities for the next crisis.
We are working with governments, communities, advocates, and philanthropy in real time to shape and execute a Just & Resilient Recovery.
Read more about our Just & Resilient Recovery framework.
Explore examples of how we’ve supported recovery so far.Read more
A Just & Resilient Response
We’re developing new approaches and tools to help frontline urban leaders navigate extraordinary uncertainty.
Pandemic impact analysis
Measure the scope of economic and community disruption and identify the populations and sectors that have been – and are likely to be – most affected
Advise local leaders on an overall approach to recovery that addresses the greatest need and sets up communities for long-term recovery, resilience, and justice
Program design and implementation
Develop new programs and partnerships that enable urban communities to keep people in their homes, build back small businesses, invest in workers, and meet today’s urgent needs
Areas of Focus
As enhanced unemployment benefits and eviction moratoria burn off, millions of renters are at risk of eviction. We’re working with localities including New Haven, Wake County (NC), and Newark to extend eviction bans and legal aid, create lease workout models to keep renters in their homes, and explore longer-term affordable housing and tenant protection strategies that address the persistent vulnerability of low-income renters.
Read more about our work to prevent evictions in Wake County from HR&A Partner Phillip Kash and Director Sarah Kirk here.
Small Business Survival
Small businesses and neighborhood corridors are facing their worst crisis in modern history, but the truth is many were already struggling before the pandemic. We are working with governments such as New York’s and Fairfax County’s to keep businesses solvent during the worst of the crisis and, in the longer term, address underlying stresses to improve small business and corridor health, broaden opportunity to start businesses especially among underrepresented groups, and empower workers and communities to capture a greater share of economic value.
The pandemic has laid bare gross disparities in our workforce, as those unable to work from home – who are more likely to be female, nonwhite, and low-wage – face either unemployment or the health risks associated with in-person work. We are working with foundations, governments, and the private sector to create more resilient local economies through stronger worker safety nets, enhanced skills training and equitable recruitment practices, and investments in digital infrastructure.
Read more about the need for increased digital adoption from HR&A Partner Kate Wittels here.
Future of Work
While the Work from Home experiment of 2020 will eventually fade, a Work from Anywhere economy is emerging. The pandemic has accelerated trends in which white-collar workers have greater workplace choice, where the central office remains essential but many employees work part-time from home, a coworking space, or new workspaces fashioned out of storefronts, hotels, and residential complexes. We are analyzing the impacts of this trend on real estate, planning, housing markets, municipal budgets, transportation – and workers themselves, including strategies to ensure workers with less power are not left behind.
Read more about the Work from Anywhere economy from HR&A Partners Danny Fuchs and Kate Wittels here.
Every recovery decision made by those in power will have winners and losers, and communities must act now or risk being left out. We help community leaders and advocacy organizations – from Pittsburgh’s Economic Justice Circle to the national philanthropy Blue Meridian Partners – understand who holds the levers of recovery, how recovery decisions are made, and how best to influence decision-making and, therefore, the future of our cities.
Read more about our approach from HR&A Partner Andrea Batista Schlesinger here.
Equitable Economic Development Planning
A seismic shift is required for economic development to contribute to ending systemic racism and economic inequality rather than continuing to perpetuate it. We are working with cities, regional organizations, innovation districts, and foundations to revisit past strategic plans, reengage communities, and commit to new goals, approaches, incentives, and organizational structures that embrace racial and economic equity and shared prosperity as core principles.
Read more about our approach from HR&A Partner Cary Hirschstein here, about our work studying the potential benefits of public banking here, and about the role of innovation districts in recovery here.
Economic and Fiscal Impacts
Understanding which populations, industries, and tax streams are most at risk is essential for fiscally constrained states and municipalities that need to target scarce resources equitably and efficiently. We are working with Nassau and Suffolk Counties in New York and Panama City in Florida to take a more nuances approach to economic impact assessment and fiscal projections to set priorities and guide decision-making in the months and years ahead.
Read more about our approach and our work with County leaders on Long Island from HR&A Partner Shuprotim Bhaumik here.
Funding and Budgeting Strategies
Local governments, transit systems, park organizations, community-based nonprofits, and other institutions essential to our cities need to fundamentally rethink how they derive revenue. Building on years of experience developing innovative funding, financing, and operating strategies, we are working with governments and a range of urban organizations to access and strategize the use of stimulus funds, rethink revenue and asset management strategies, and develop new partnerships that help close gaps and promote long-term financial resilience.
Read more about our insights into the future funding of parks and open space from HR&A Vice Chairman Candace Damon here and about funding strategies for transit systems from HR&A Partner Amitabh Barthakur here.
OUR WORK SO FAR
<a id="projects">We’re committed to sharing lessons and resources from our work to guide recovery across cities.
RESILIENT HOUSTON: ADAPTING CITYWIDE RESILIENCE PLAN FOR RECOVERY
HR&A worked with the City of Houston to contextualize
RAPID-RESPONSE RECOVERY SUPPORT
HR&A is supporting the development of a central coordinating framework to guide the City’s COVID-19 economic recovery and providing support technical support to the Mayor’s Reopening and Recovery Strikeforce. We have advised on stimulus funding opportunities, developed an online tool to help small businesses apply for capital, evaluated the unique impacts of the pandemic.
ECONOMIC RECOVERY FRAMEWORK & ACTION PLAN
Working with Fairfax County and the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, HR&A is developing a “Working Recovery Framework” – a living document that reflects the county’s needs and leadership’s priorities to guide recovery. The framework will be based on an analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on the local economy and will identify strategies that both support and accelerate economic recovery and increase economic opportunities and equitable outcomes throughout the County.
IMPACT STUDY TO SHAPE RECOVERY
Long Island, NY
Starting in April, HR&A supported Nassau and Suffolk Counties to rapidly analyze the economic and fiscal impacts of Covid-19, drawing on real-time labor data, on-the-ground business surveys, and interviews with businesses leaders. Our report found that Long Island shed jobs at a faster rate than NYC and other suburbs during initial months of the crisis, and that lower-paid and Latinx workers were disproportionately impacted. The County Executives leveraged our work to call on Washington for federal support to enable a just and resilient recovery.
POST-COVID-19 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
Pittsburgh Metro Area, PA
HR&A is advising the Allegheny Conference on policies and investment strategies that can competitively position the 10-county Pittsburgh region to drive inclusive economic growth in a post Covid-19 world, including attracting new business relocations, supporting business expansion, reinvesting in regional communities, increasing access to capital for small and minority businesses, and supporting the local and diverse workforce.
EVICTION PREVENTION STRATEGY & PROGRAM DESIGN
Wake County, NC
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing housing affordability challenges and threatens an eviction crisis on a scale never before seen. In the face of this crisis, HR&A supported Wake County, N.C., to develop the House Wake! COVID-19 Eviction Prevention Program – a three-step eviction prevention program funded by CARES Act allocations that offers a model for leveraging public dollars to keep low- and moderate-income renters in their homes.
DISASTER RECOVERY & RESILIENCE PLAN
Panama City, FL
Building on our work developing the City’s 2019 Economic Development Plan, HR&A is helping the City of Panama City leverage disaster recovery funds, following Hurricane Michael in 2018, and assess local COVID-19 impacts to guide the implementation of housing programs, blight removal, and catalytic redevelopment projects to support long-term economic development.
PUBLIC BANK FEASIBILITY STUDY
In the face of entrenched racial poverty and an $800+ million small business lending gap, HR&A conducted an independent study on the feasibility of a City-controlled public bank to achieve a more just economy. HR&A’s report recommended the structuring of – and outlined regulatory steps to establish – a public bank that would loan government funds to historically underbanked small businesses to support job growth and wealth creation while responsibly managing public funds.