The National Trust for Historic Preservation and an alliance of some 380 related groups are calling upon Congress to support the nation’s non-profit preservation and cultural resources in its planning for the next wave of stimulus funding.
A letter delivered yesterday to leadership of both parties in the House of Representatives and Senate highlights the ongoing challenges that non-profit preservation organizations and communities working to protect historic resources face—challenges that have been largely overlooked by direct stimulus action, the organizations say.
“Historic preservation has been a dynamic tool used by Congress to revitalize downtowns and Main Street communities,” said the National Trust's vice president for government relations, Tom Cassidy, in a statement. “After Hurricane Katrina and the mortgage meltdown of 2008, increased funding delivered to certain well-established programs, like the Historic Tax Credit, was used to increase historic rehabilitation projects in communities.
“That federal funding created thousands of jobs and catalyzed new investments in American communities that were still thriving today,” he continued. “With this letter, we are advocating using those tools again and advancing passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, that was primed for Senate action. These steps can help sustain significant historic and cultural assets and institutions during these challenging times.”
The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—which includes the Payment Protection Program, intended to relieve small businesses some of the financial strain from the pandemic—was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020.
The letter calls for:
- Enhancements to the federal historic tax credit, which provides significant federal investment in historic preservation
- $420 million in supplemental funding for the Historic Preservation Fund
- Enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act, which would provide $9.5 billion over five years to address the deferred maintenance needs of the National Park Service and other federal agencies, and full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund
- Additional enhancements of charitable giving provisions in the CARES Act
- Additional funding for arts, humanities, and museums through the National Endowment of the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute of Museum and Library Services
- Opposition to legislative exemptions from provisions in the National Historic Preservation Act, including Section 106, or the National Environmental Policy Act
“These actions will ensure that the nation’s cultural infrastructure of historic sites, national parks and public lands will still remain a vital part of the nation’s economic life as our nation recovers from the coronavirus pandemic,” said Cassidy.