Combating COVID-19: Our Affiliates respond fast

UnidosUS Affiliate La Paz Chattanooga is delivering food to those in need in their city.

From the moment the COVID-19 pandemic struck, one thing was made clear: the impact on the Hispanic community was going to be drastic. When 18% of Latinos remain uninsured, compared to around 5% of non-Hispanic Whites; 27.3% work in construction; 22.3% in hospitality and leisure; 11.5% are employed in education and health services; 23.1% in agriculture; and 16.4% work in wholesale and retail, our community was both going to be hit hard by unemployment.

Latinos are also overrepresented that do not offer the possibility of telework, too often have to live in crowded conditions or multifamily homes, and lack access to health care. As many Latino families continue to struggle, our Affiliate Network continues to step up for them. Below we are highlighting organizations that have set up rapid response funds to provide for our families who are ineligible for federal or state support.

By Beatriz Paniego-Béjar, Content Specialist, UnidosUS

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Our Affiliates’ rapid response funds have provided emergency funding to our families who are struggling pay for rent, to put food on their tables, and pay other bills since federal and state government has failed to protect us. Below we highlight five of our Affiliates who have established these funds, and some of the experiences of members of their communities.

Mission Asset Fund launched their Rapid Response Fund on March 20.

MISSION ASSET FUND (MAF), SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

This organization has raised more than $14 million dollars so far from philanthropists and community members in the San Francisco area. “We’re raising money to put directly into the hands of the people who need it most: low-income and immigrant families who rely on informal, part time, or gig work; small business owners, artists, and entrepreneurs devastated by the economic collapse; and college students who won’t receive government checks or unemployment benefits,” MAF explains on their Coronavirus Rapid Response page.

They are helping their clients on three fronts: finding resources people may be eligible for, saving them time and effort in navigating the systems; distributing $500 cash grants to people who can’t or won’t be able to receive government relief; and offering zero interest emergency loans to help small business owners.

As an anonymous recipient explains: “This grant means I have the opportunity to have a home, have food, have mental peace for an extra month or so during these times. This grant is important to me because it further establishes the support and love people in organizations like this one have for their community members, like me.”

LA UNIÓN DEL PUEBLO ENTERO (LUPE), SAN JUAN, TEXAS

A LUPE grantee receives her cash card.

Their Dando la mano Fund has also been established to help “immigrant workers who are risking their lives to save ours.” As LUPE states: “They were not deemed essential enough to receive relief checks or be included in COVID-19 testing and care. Congress may have abandoned immigrant workers, but we will not.”

They received more than 500 applications which they are trying to fulfill completely, delivering cash cards. Their first priority are farmworkers that have not received stimulus checks, and families who are completely out of work due to COVID-19. LUPE is also providing guidance to their families, helping them find food drives, testing sites, and other resources available to them.

CENTER FOR CHANGING LIVES (CCL), CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

From the moment the pandemic started, CCL has seen a 700% increase in the demand of their services. People reached out to them seeking help because of the coronavirus outbreak, and that’s when they initiated their Emergency Response to COVID-19, to “increase our capacity to reach the community and provide vital services such as emergency rental and mortgage assistance, employment coaching, and financial coaching during this difficult time,” CCL writes.

CCL has seen a 700% increase in demand of their services.

In an appealing letter from earlier this year, their Board President Rodolfo De Jesus, made a plea to fundraise for their emergency fund, and he talked about clients like Sofía, “who came to CCL just a few short months ago and was building a financial plan for her future, but has now lost her job. We currently have hundreds of folks in need of support applying for unemployment, housing assistance, and finding additional income.”

De Jesus finished the appeal affirming: “We are in this together, and we refuse to let people lose their chance for a better future.”

LA PAZ CHATTANOOGA, CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE

Chattanooga, and other parts of Tennessee, have not only had to endure the coronavirus pandemic, but also the tornadoes that came through their city in April 12. During these troublesome times, La Paz Chattanooga’s team worked day and night to keep their community informed, and guided them to the resources available to make ends meet.

However, that wasn’t enough. This UnidosUS Affiliate soon realized they needed to establish their own relief fund to provide for their community. Many of the people they serve are out of work and cannot access financial assistance from the federal and state governments. As a result, La Paz created the Latinx Relief Fund with which they are offering financial support to families who are missing vital resources.

La Paz Chattanooga is delivering fresh produce to multiple communities in their city thanks to local partnerships.

La Paz explains that this fund is allowing them to “provide rent and utilities support as well as cover some basic needs expenses.”

MAKE THE ROAD NEW YORK, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

This organization has created a COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to support the most vulnerable workers and low-income immigrant and working-class families they serve. “Through this fund,” they explain, “we will provide direct cash support to people left out of the stimulus package, and organize to insist that our communities be included in future government support.”

This UnidosUS Affiliate is also part of the #ShareMyCheck initiative, a movement started in March after the CARES Act passed, asking people with means to survive on their salaries or savings to donate their stimulus check to mutual-aid funds—helping people’s most immediate needs of food, safety, wellness and health—and grassroots organizations—organizing and building power to create lasting systemic changes—two things Make the Road New York is working on.

Make the Road New York is part of the #ShareMyCheck initiative.

We are proud at how our Affiliate Network is responding to support our community in these challenging times, and we want them to continue doing this crucial work. Please consider donating to our Esperanza/Hope Fund and help our communities throughout the country get past this health and economic crisis. We are also calling on our community and our allies to support immediate Senate passage of the HEROES Act, a bill which would reduce the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our nation’s working families. For more information on the HEROES Act, you can visit this page.

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