Boston recently passed its $3.65 billion fiscal year 2021 operating budget and its $3 billion fiscal year 2021-2025 capital plan at a time of great uncertainty brought on by the new coronavirus pandemic.
“The City’s primary focus continues to be responding to the needs of residents and businesses affected by COVID-19 and funding programs to function effectively through this crisis and beyond it,” said Allyson Perron, the government relations director for the American Heart Association in Massachusetts. “The citywide resilience strategy aims to ensure all residents can reach their full potential regardless of their background, and to remove the barriers that hinder Bostonians from having access to opportunities.”
The American Heart Association advocated for safe, reliable and accessible streets and spaces in Boston. The fiscal year 2021 Streets Budget includes investments for Boston’s future by working to create an equitable city with opportunity for all residents to move easily and safely around Boston. These new investments, from bike lanes to reconstructed sidewalks, will go a long way toward ensuring that.
The fiscal year 2021 capital plan funds multiple projects that promote universal access to public spaces, including:
- A newly expanded pedestrian ramp plan that doubles the number of ramps installed.
- A $100 million commitment to the design and construction of a transformative Northern Avenue bridge. This multi-modal bridge will prioritize pedestrians, cyclists and shared public space on the waterfront.
- $2 million for a Safety Intervention Program on Neighborhood Streets, which will help us evaluate and act on all resident 311 safety requests.
- $1 million for the expansion of our bike share network, mostly in Hyde Park, Mattapan and Dorchester, in order to improve accessibility and reach our Go Boston goal of 268 stations by 2022.
- $150,000 to improve the Pedestrian Signal Retiming Program in order to retime more of our most dangerous intersections in a more equitable manner.
- $100,000 to subsidize bikeshare memberships for several Main Street districts.
- $90,000 to expand our Youth Cycling program, which hosts bike workshops for thousands of BPS students.
Additionally, the fiscal year 2021 budget includes critical funding for funding for key public health programs.
“This year’s budget includes significant investments in the Public Health Commission, which serves as the City’s health department and provides emergency medical services (EMS), infectious disease surveillance, substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, community health programming, shelter and advocacy for homeless individuals, and home and school based health services for children and families. The 2021 budget has a 9.7% increase, ensuring these important services are well funded”, Perron explained.
To reduce food insecurity, the fiscal year 2021 budget invests $524,724 in the Office of Food Access for the expansion of the Double Up Food Program, which will lead to the addition of stores in East Boston, Roxbury, Mattapan and Dorchester.
“This critical funding mechanism not only serves to address the burden of food insecurity for the most vulnerable in Boston in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also puts an infrastructure in place to help ensure future access,” said Perron.