News

COVID-19 Update and Resources

April 3, 2020
 
It’s been just under a week since Raleigh and Wake County’s ‘stay-at-home’ order went into effect. Since Monday, our entire state has been under a similar order from Governor Cooper. We are only at the beginning of this crisis, but I am more confident than ever that we will get through this if we all continue to do our part – even when it gets tough – and stay home.
As COVID-19 moves quickly into our community, I wanted to share some resources for you and your family, how you can help, and actions our city is taking to continue government functions.
First, if you or a member of your family is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, our county and state have issued new guidance to ensure those that are most in need are tested. Reach out to your doctor or local health department about a test if you meet one of the two criteria:
 
  1. A fever or lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case within the past 14 days; OR
  2. A fever and lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and a negative rapid flu test
If you have recently become unemployed, you can apply for benefits at any time – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, online at this link. Additional payments from the federal government will begin this week and will be paid retroactively.
There are several resources for small businesses who are struggling as a result of COVID-19. You can learn more about and apply for a North Carolina COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan here. The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering a loan to help small businesses keep workers on their payroll for the next several months. You can learn more about that program here. You can apply through your bank beginning today, April 3rd. The Raleigh Chamber of Commerce also has excellent information on the SBA Disaster Assistance Loan program.
 
There are also several opportunities for grants from large businesses and non-profits. Google, which has a significant footprint in Raleigh, is offering grants and credits to small businesses. You can learn more here. Facebook is offering a similar grant program for small businesses.
 
Next week, the City Council will hold our April 7 meeting virtually, which we will do for the duration of the State of Emergency. We will continue regular city business as well as discuss our continued response to COVID-19. You can learn more and sign up to speak here.
 
We are in uncharted territory as a city and as a nation. The next few weeks will bring even more losses and challenges and we need each other now more than ever. Take care of yourselves and check in with friends and family members via phone and social media. Thank you to those who have been on the frontlines of this crisis – our doctors, nurses, and emergency services workers. We are so grateful to you and all of those who are keeping our city safe during this time.
  

Stay at Home Order

March 27, 2020

Yesterday, Wake County announced a ‘stay-at-home’ order that will take effect at 5pm today, March 27th, to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am grateful to our city and county leaders for the hard work and thoughtful conversations that went into this decision. These measures will be in effect until at least April 16th as we continue to monitor COVID-19 in our city. I discussed the details of the order in a video released earlier today

 The stay-at-home order includes the following mandates:

• All non-essential facilities, services, operations and retail businesses must close.
• Gatherings of any size are prohibited. 
• People of any age with medical conditions should not leave their homes except to get medical care.
• Social distancing must be practiced while in public.
• Public transportation should only be used if necessary. If public transport is a person’s primary way to get around, they should abide by social distancing best practices, standing and sitting at least six feet apart and using sanitizing products.

The stay-at-home order DOES NOT restrict activities such as:

• Shopping for food at the grocery store or picking up take-out meals from a local restaurant.
• Operating businesses that provide critical services like hospitals, government agencies and financial institutions. 
• Caring for a family member or pet in another household.
• Providing childcare for parents who have to go to work at jobs that are considered essential.
• Utilizing plumbers, electricians, exterminators and others who help maintain the safety and sanitation of residences.
• Visiting a local park, greenway or nature preserve while practicing social distancing. Please note that only open park areas and greenways will remain open. Athletic courts and fields, dog parks, playgrounds, lakes, restrooms, and all other facilities will be closed. 

It has been a tough few weeks for many of us, and the next few weeks will be even tougher. But this only works if we all stay strong and work together. While we are keeping our physical distance, it’s more important than ever that we stay connected. Text or call to check in on your friends, family, and neighbors -- and make sure you are taking care of yourself as well. 

I cannot emphasize how important it is for you to stay at home.  But, stay at home does not mean shelter in place.  While physically distancing yourself at least six feet, take a walk in your neighborhood, around a city park or greenway. Get some fresh air and sunshine. Walk your pet. Please take care of yourself. We will get through this.


 

COVID-19 Update

March 18, 2020
  
Our world has changed rapidly in less than a week. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our daily lives and routines. The Raleigh City Council is working closely with the Governor’s Office, the NC Department of Health & Human Services, and Wake County Human Services to ensure the continued health and safety of our community during this time. I wanted to take a moment to provide you an update on the actions the city has taken to address COVID-19 and how we move forward.
 
Here are actions I’ve taken along with the City Council in recent days:
 
• We authorized reinstatement of water and sewer services that were disconnected due to nonpayment to ensure that all residents have access to clean water. Further, we will ensure that no water services are cut off for non-payment during this crisis.
• We have suspended ordinances that prevent deliveries to grocery stores, nonprofit enterprises, and other businesses at certain times so that these stores have access to stock as soon as possible.
• We are working with the county to provide staging areas for food distribution.
• We amended our street parking ordinance to allow street parking to be reserved to serve the public good, including dedicated parking in front of restaurants that provide takeout services.
• We convened a meeting with our small business community to listen and act on concerns.
• We continue to work with and advise our nonprofit and corporate partners of immediate and longterm needs of our city.
• For our community’s health, all district council meetings, boards and commissions, and committee meetings are cancelled until April 15th. All public hearings have been moved to our next scheduled council meeting on April 7th. In the meantime, we are working with staff to provide options for virtual meetings. One of our top priorities continues to be a November bond referendum to address housing affordability, which will be even more critical when this crisis passes. We remain committed to this goal.
 
This is an exceedingly difficult time for our local business community. I hope you will join me in supporting them while keeping ourselves and our neighbors safe. You can find a list of takeout and delivery restaurants in Raleigh here. I also hope you’ll join me in supporting organizations like Oak City Cares and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina that serve our community’s most vulnerable members. You can find a list of several organizations that need your help here.
 
I’ll be working to keep you updated as the situation continues to unfold. Follow my Facebook and Instagram pages to stay in the loop. Also, if you have ideas or would like to share ways the city government can help during this crisis, please contact me at maryann.baldwin@raleighnc.gov.
 
I’m so grateful for how our community has pulled together in uncertain times. Let’s continue to work together to be flexible, kind, compassionate, nonjudgmental, and generous.
 

100 Days of Progress

March 14, 2020

It's been 100 days since your new Raleigh City Council took office and we’ve been busy. We've already acted on our promises regarding housing affordability, mobility, and community engagement – and there’s still so much more to do. Change isn’t easy, but with your continued support, we remain committed to building a Raleigh for all.

Here is some of the progress we’ve made in 100 days:

 • We’re moving forward on Quality of Life Bonds -- Raleigh's "Moon Shot" as I described at my swearing-in ceremony.  These bonds will make historic investments in housing affordability and enhance our parks and greenways system, including funding to begin the development of Dix Park. We are currently engaged in a robust community engagement effort to determine what will be included in the bond package. A final vote will be taken May 19th to place the bonds on the November General Election ballot. Click here to learn more. 

• We created a Police Advisory Board to advise the Raleigh Police Department on policy, training, accountability, and building community trust. Police officers knowing the people they protect and residents knowing the police officers who serve them is critical. Anyone interested in serving can submit an application and learn more here.

• We acted to allow cottage courts to be built across the city, as well as townhomes, duplexes, triplexes and quads -- known as "Missing Middle Housing." For many people, their entree into the housing market is through the purchase of a townhome. Under the current rules, townhomes cannot be built in 80 percent of the city.  Under the new rules, an array of housing options could be available, providing residents with more affordable choices.

• We modified the Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance that essentially banned ADUs (also known as "granny flats") to now allow them by right with reasonable regulations.

• With input from the public and city staff, we enacted a policy change to allow short-term rentals. Anyone renting a room or a home on Airbnb or VRBO will need to request a zoning permit and follow safety and public health rules. There will be a "three strikes" rule to protect neighbors. Additionally, city staff will monitor trends and report back to the Council on how the regulations are working and if any further changes should be considered.

• We have started the process of building a “compassion fund” to help Raleigh residents without a stable home (living in hotels, etc.) to move into rental housing. The proposed seed fund would cover a security deposit and first month’s rent for qualified families who need some help getting started.

• After years of studies and suggested reforms, we have taken the first steps to revolutionize citizen engagement in Raleigh. The CAC system that we have ended had become far too insular and not representative of our diverse community.  Our new approach will expand our use of technology to engage more voices including renters, students, seniors, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community and other underrepresented voices.

• I’m really excited to report that we have created a Commission on Hispanic & Immigrant Affairs to give this important segment of our community a voice in the affairs of our city. These residents offer Raleigh a unique and dynamic perspective and I am delighted with this latest development.  Anyone interested in serving on the Commission may submit an application and learn more at this link.

• We have also formed a study group to hear from you on how the City Council can better represent you and also how we can increase citizen engagement and turnout in municipal elections. You can learn more and get involved here. If you’re interested in serving on a city board or commission, please let me know.

• And finally, in recent days we have redoubled efforts in coordinating with our local, state, and federal public health and safety partners to deal with the ongoing risks of COVID-19.  Our top priority is keeping the people who live in Raleigh safe.  I encourage everyone to follow the guidance given by healthcare professionals.

It’s been a great 100 days!  Thank you again for all your ongoing support.  I can’t do it without your help. I look forward to the next 100 days and beyond.  Let’s keep working to build a city of progress, innovation, and compassion for all.