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In Face of April Outbreak, DAI Zeroes In On Long-Term Economic Impact of Covid-19 Crisis

[Excerpt]

While health and government officials work to manage the outbreak, families are struggling to pay bills and buy groceries.

Josephine Lopez Paul, the lead organizer for the Dallas Area Interfaith, a coalition of nonprofits and religious organizations that advocates for low-income families, said local, state and federal policymakers need to spend this month thinking about how to reshape the economy.

Lopez Paul said she hopes officials find a way to mitigate debt families may build as they continue to stay unable to work.

“This is going to be a depression,” she said. “This is the fastest economic decline we’ve seen in modern history. We’re not going to flip a switch one day and everyone go back to work. Some folks are never going to be able to recover from this.”

[Photo Credit: Smiley N. Pool, Dallas Morning News]

April Will Be a Make-or-Break Month for North Texas in Coronavirus Fight, Dallas Morning News [pdf]


MVP Advances Eviction Hold in Colorado's Western Slope, Presses for Full Moratorium

[Excerpts below]

“Many people find themselves in a very unique situation, where the families affected most by this are either on front lines, in the grocery stores or health services, while others are living paycheck to paycheck, and now they don’t have that,” Niebla said in a video interview Tuesday along with other leaders of the Mountain Voices Project, a program of Manaus.

....

“What we’re hearing loud and clear right now is that folks who should be paying their rent in the next few days are not only very concerned about this month but are thinking ahead a month or two, and what that will bring,” [organizer Alice] Steindler said.

The attorney general and the governor have made “some good, thoughtful recommendations,” she said, but renters and landlords alike could use some assurance that they’re part of the equation.

“We’re not looking to put all of this responsibility on landlords,” Steindler said. “We understand that people being able to have that rental income is important, but we need some decisions sooner than later.”

Father Bert Chilson of St. Stephen Catholic Parish in Glenwood Springs also works with MVP as a community organizer. He said he has already heard of at least one instance where a property manager in Garfield County issued formal notice to tenants advising that rent will be expected to be paid on time this month.

“This is a time of great fear,” he said. “The stress is real for everyone, and for our immigrant population, it’s that stress level times 10.

“Right now, we have an order to stay at home, but if we start to see threats to remove people from their homes, how are we going to keep people safe?”

Eviction Hearings on Hold in 9th District, but Some Organizations Call for Full Moratorium During Public Health EmergencyPost Independent [pdf]


TMO Fights for Food, Basic Needs in Face of Coronavirus Crisis

[Excerpts]

Alba Garcia, 51, has a decision to make. Does she pay rent Wednesday or does she buy food for her 7-year-old daughter?

“Maybe I should try and pay my rent because I can’t bear for me and my daughter to be on the streets. I can beg for food but I can’t lose my apartment," she said in Spanish. Joe Higgs, an organizer for The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) acted as a translator. TMO works with Holy Ghost Catholic Church where Garcia is a member.

....

The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) — which is a coalition of organizations and religious institutions — is working with Garcia’s and Hernandez’s church to help them and others in dire situations. Their two big focuses during the coronavirus crisis are ensuring the poorest and most vulnerable people in the Houston area have food security and don’t lose housing.

“As Rev. John Ogletree of First Metropolitan Church and TMO said at a TMO virtual press conference on Wednesday, March 18, ‘hourly and part-time workers like waiters, cleaning crews, bartenders, dishwashers and others are losing their income and this is forcing them to decide whether to buy food, pay utility bills or pay rent,'” the group wrote in a press release.

Among their demands from local lawmakers, TMO is asking that Gov. Greg Abbott place a moratorium on evictions.

[Photo Credit: Click2Houston.com]

Faced With Desperate Circumstances, Nearly 2M People in Texas - Including These Houstonians - Won’t See a Stimulus Check, Click 2 Houston [pdf]


VIP Clergy Help Advance Arizona's Stay-at-Home Order, Express Concern About Broad Definition of Essential Services

After 100 clergy from Valley Interfaith Project and other congregations across the state called on the Governor to issue a Stay-at-Home order in Arizona, the governor responded with an urging to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected.” 

While the order does call on residents to stay at home, the clergy now point out that:

"the order still loosely defines essential businesses as golf courses, nail salons and gun shops. These employees would have to continue reporting to work, catering to non-essential needs, at great risk of contracting the virus and spreading it to others. That’s in no one’s interest....

We know how to revive an economy, but not a lost human life.... 

So, we, as clergy leaders of Valley Interfaith Project, ask our state leaders to reassess what we deem absolutely essential and to protect us all. There’s still time for improvements to this order that would diminish the spread of this epidemic.

[Photo Credit: Cliff Hawkins, Getty Images via Arizona Mirror

COVID-19 Demands That We All Make Sacrifices for the Common WelfareArizona Mirror [pdf]

Ducey Orders Arizonians to Stay Home Except for 'Essential Activities' Due to CoronavirusArizona Daily Star [pdf]

Arizona Mayors to Gov. Ducey: Issue a Shelter-In-Place OrderAZ Family [pdf]


IAF Orgs Sharpen Focus on Impact of COVID-19 Crisis on Immigrants

After the Covid-19 pandemic precipitated an economic crisis of historic proportions, the Industrial Areas Foundation launched a campaign calling on Congress to provide direct monthly aid for the duration of the crisis to American workers -- regardless of their citizenship.

While the recently passed $2.2 Trillion emergency stimulus will provide adults a one-time $1,200 check, it is set to leave out undocumented immigrants -- including those who pay taxes using a Tax Identification Number.  IAF organizations across the West / Southwest IAF working with immigrant communities lay out the implications of this decision below:    

[Excerpts below]

Health care is a concern to both undocumented immigrants and legal residents....  Last August, the Trump administration tightened restrictions on legal immigrants who receive government benefits, referred to as 'public charges.' The new policy denies green cards to many immigrants who use Medicaid, food stamps and other benefits.

Immigrants in the Dallas area mask their symptoms so they can continue to work, according to Josephine López Paul, lead organizer with Dallas Area Interfaith.

“We’ve seen our service industries obliterated,” said Ms. López Paul. “Immigrants are being hit the hardest right now and there’s no safety net for them.”

....

When undocumented immigrants do approach hospitals, they quickly turn away if they see any law enforcement present, according to Ana Chavarin, lead organizer of Pima County Interfaith in Tucson, Ariz. Families are less afraid of the virus itself and more concerned with how they would pay for a long-term hospital visit, she said.

Ms. Chavarin has met with families who, not knowing how long the pandemic will last or when they will find work again, have begun rationing food. “Because they are undocumented, they cannot apply for any kind of help,” she said. Some have U.S. citizen children and could apply for benefits on their behalf, she said. But fear of deportation keeps many from doing so.

....

Food is the number one concern for pastors in Houston, according to Elizabeth Valdez, lead organizer for The Metropolitan Organization. Some parishes and congregations have started to purchase gift cards for food while others are collecting items for the church pantry. Local chapters of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are gathering items, but since they often count on elderly volunteers, it has been a challenge.

Children cut off from school presents another challenge for low-income families. “The kids being home, [families] don’t always have the technology they need to keep up with school,” Ms. Valdez said.

....

“There has to be a way to get the money into the hands of service workers,” said Joe Rubio, director of the West/Southwest Industrial Area Foundation, a community organizing network. Pastors are seeing an increase in domestic violence, he said, likely stemming from frustration, economic pressure and children being home from school. Studies have found that immigrant survivors of domestic violence are unlikely to report abuse to law enforcement. Isolation and behavioral health issues have the potential to lead to an increase in suicide rates, he said.

“This could profoundly change the nature of parishes and congregations,” Mr. Rubio said, referring not only to the economic impact of the coronavirus but also how communities respond to those in need during the crisis. “We have to think about how we compensate those making the biggest sacrifices and how we ramp up the economy once it’s over.”

[Photo Credit: John Locher, AP Photo]

Stimulus Does Little to Stifle Covid-19 Fears in the Undocumented CommunityAmerica [pdf]


Coloradans for the Common Good Leverages Grocery Worker Win: Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Childcare

At the urging of Coloradans for the Common Good and the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), Governor Jared Polis expanded the consideration of "essential workers" to include food and grocery store workers on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis. The protections include emergency paid leave and child care, and will benefit 20,000 grocery store and commercial food processing workers across the state.

In a meeting with the Governor, faith and labor leaders successfully made the case that grocery store workers are essential and should be eligible for supports then-available only to front-line medical workers.

[Photo Credit: Mykal McEldowney / IndyStar]

Colorado Emergency Child Care Expands to include Grocery, Construction WorkersChalkbeat [pdf]  

What About Grocery Store Workers? Advocates Push Colorado to Extend Emergency Child CareChalkbeat [pdf


DAI Drives Acceptance of Parish ID at Dallas County Mobile Testing Units

Parish identification cards, an IAF immigration strategy developed in collaboration with the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, are now accepted at Dallas County Covid-19 mobile testing units.  

[Photo Credit: Smiley N. Pool, Dallas Morning News]

Coronavirus: Condado de Dallas Responde a Preguntas Frecuentes Sobre 'Quédate en Casa' y Covid-19Al Día Dallas [pdf]


Together Louisiana Draws National Spotlight to Crisis in New Orleans

Relentless efforts by Together Louisiana resulted first in local media attention and then national media focus on the new storm brewing in New Orleans. 

New Orleans Faces a Virus Nightmare, and Mardi Gras May Be Why, New York Times

New Orleans Has Some of the Highest Coronavirus Infection Rates in the US - Yet It's OverlookedThe Advocate 

Together Louisiana Press Conference (done online)

March 15th Infographic Demonstrating Outbreak in New OrleansTogether Louisiana 

How Early Intervention Can Save LivesTogether Louisiana


MOC Leaders Leverage Eviction Moratorium in Marin County, CA

After leaders of Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) called on Marin County Supervisors and every city mayor and councilmember in the county to pass an eviction moratorium, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to protect renters affected by the coronavirus emergency. 

The ordinance lasts until May 31st and will apply both to unincorporated areas and incorporated cities.  Effective immediately, the resolution also stops landlords from charging a late fee for rent that is delayed due to the health crisis -- something MOC fought for until the last minute.  The resolution will apply to all tenants regardless of their immigration status.

MOC leaders were the only ones to speak at the hearing, not only pushing for the fee waiver, but also for an extended period of time to repay missed rent.  MOC leader Sami Mericle, who lost three of the four jobs she relies on to afford a shared two-bedroom apartment in San Rafael testified in person: 

“There is no way I could repay the missed rent by the end of the state of emergency...and I’m not alone.”

MOC leaders are calling the moratorium a "good first step" while noting that the "County has the leeway to alter and extend this resolution as the situation unfolds."  Leaders are also calling for homeowner protections from foreclosures.

[Photo Credit: Alan Dep, Marin Independent Journal]

Supervisors Should Help Renters and Approve Bigger Aid PackageMarin Independent Journal [pdf]

Marin Tenants Get Eviction Shield in Virus CrisisMarin Independent Journal [pdf]


Together LA Raises Alarm on New Orleans Outbreak

As the rate of coronavirus infection in Orleans Parish consistently outranked most other US counties, Together Louisiana raised an early alarm that the conversation about Covid-19 was overlooking New Orleans.  Weeks after Together LA leaders produced their own research, based on county-by-county analysis of cases per 1,000 people, local media responded and confirmed what leaders had been arguing for weeks.

One “metaphor we throw around every day is, this truck is moving faster and faster; it’s moving at different distances and different speeds in different places,” said Shawn Moses Anglim, pastor of First Grace United Methodist Church, and a leader with Together Louisiana.  “But in New Orleans, the truck is a block away, and it’s coming at 120 mph.”

For weeks, congregational leaders have been educating the public about how early precautionary measures can save lives months later.

[Photo Credit: David Grunsfeld, Times Picayune]

New Orleans Has Some of the Highest Coronavirus Infection Rates in the US - Yet It's OverlookedThe Advocate [pdf]  

March 15th Infographic Demonstrating Outbreak in New OrleansTogether Louisiana 

How Early Intervention Can Save LivesTogether Louisiana