How many churches in your area help raise funds for the local community? Maybe a neighbor had a fire and needs to rebuild their life? How about the local childcare centers role in ensuring families can all go to work? Do you work out for a minimal donation at the local YMCA or community center? All of these institutions are critical infrastructure for the progressive growth of a balanced and stable micro-community that produces and adds value to the macro community of American society. If we redefine critical infrastructure to include communal resources we can provide equity and long-term communal strength and viability.
Critical infrastructure is defined as bridges, roads, water systems, and other physical and cyber systems that maintain human needs. Our human needs have gone far beyond this definition as our populations changed along with our business system. Communities that had thriving manufacturing bases have crumbled over the years losing millions in taxes that decrease their ability to fund community infrastructure. As communities lose jobs they lose population density affecting school population, community center funding base, and even churches which are ad-hoc NGOs lose their ability to serve the community beyond the pew. It’s time we define these community resources as critical infrastructure to ensure equity amongst all areas within our cities and towns.
A local ordinance for stabilizing the funding of these communities will work best. As we all know, small communities are dependent on the larger communities for funding. Think of local funding as trickle-down economics-federal and state monies eventually trickle to your smaller community and sometimes don’t if the cash flow stops. We will use the city as an example. Most cities have neighborhoods that are split by various means into smaller quadrants of a city. In Chicago, it’s the west, east, south, and north side. In New York, it’s split by Burroughs and then by certain sections of living areas within the Burroughs. Some small cities are split between the “old” part of the city and the new development parts or even by the sides of the tracks. Yes, those adages are true. The problem with city funding is the higher tax based areas within the city will receive better resources like increased school funding, community center grants, and business community grants. The other half fails without the same funding.
The battle for equitable tax systems could be averted through ordinances that legally ensure funding for the same community resources if they are deemed critical infrastructure for poor communities. An ordinance should include relabeling church community organizations a critical infrastructure. To avoid the separation of state and church only community-based events, food banks, coat drives, and non-religious classes held could be funded. Hundreds of churches have GED programs, computer literacy programs, after school programs, and more that are not just faith-based but community-based. Without these critical resources, communities fail.
The same equitable funding would be provided for start-up businesses similar to Neighbor Opportunity Funds like in Chicago and New York. Closed storefronts mean a lack of taxes being created through shopping and services in a community. Organizations such as the Urban Leagues throughout cities provide classes and funding for business development and sustainability. The ordinance needs to include a separate fund for struggling communities to consistently stabilize community services in childcare centers as well so working poor can have a safe pace for their children.
It’s time we forget the old tax base formula for stabilizing communities and move to ensure equity by formulating local ordinances that will acknowledge the real critical infrastructure of a community and fund the futures of the entire city or town.
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