By Andrea Nakano

OAKLAND (KPIX) — Just before addressing the nation Thursday night, President Biden signed a $1.9 trillion relief package called the American Rescue Plan. Out of that, the city of Oakland is expecting to get roughly $190 million.

Councilmember Noel Gallo said the city was just a month away from another round of layoffs. As Gallo phrased it, Oakland is not trying to fly to the moon with this money, it’s just trying to stay afloat.

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“The American Rescue Plan is a rescue plan for Oakland,” said Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf.

With Oakland facing a deficit close to $45 million, the American Rescue Plan money is going to help the city fund basic services, maintain its infrastructure and provide public safety.

“I can’t tell you how gut-wrenching this last year has been as the needs of our communities have never been more acute or desperate,” Mayor Schaaf said.

But the aid from the federal government is not an answer to all of Oakland’s problems.

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“Right now, with this stimulus package, we’re going to have to put it in places where we get the most bang for our buck,” said city councilmember Caroll Fife.

2020 was Oakland’s deadliest year since 2012, with 102 murders. That trend has continued into 2021.

While public safety remains a priority, councilmember Fife hopes that by using the funds to lift communities out of poverty, Oakland will start seeing a longterm reduction in crime.

“Unless we start investing in housing, education and jobs and all of the things we know keep us safe, then we will never get to a point in our city where we are truly safe,” Fife said.

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Oakland had to dip into its reserves during the pandemic. The city might use some of the stimulus funds to replenish that account.