On February 26th, El Centro de la Raza hosted an ICHS COVID Vaccine Clinic in our Centilia Cultural Center. We are happy to have used our beautiful space for such an essential purpose. We saw many important community members, including 15 qualifying tenants of Plaza Roberto Maestas and El Patio, ready to take their next steps in staying safe and keeping our community safe. To find your phase, you can go here. The space was equipped with translators, doctors, and volunteers to support with any questions or concerns. It’s important for everyone to get the vaccine when it is their phase to protect our community and loved ones.
Marisa*, 77, is one of our senior lunch program’s longest-standing participants. She has been joining us for lunch since 2004 or 2005 since she met Raquel, one of our program coordinators. Marisa has also supported the community by volunteering with our food bank and with other senior programs. She says the program has helped her with many parts of her life and she has met many people over the years, being part of this community. Marisa is a great example for our community and a wonderful member of it. We appreciate her support, her presence, and the love she brings with her.
*Name has been changed for privacy
Latino Legislative Day 2021
On March 17, 8 middle school youth from the Totem After School Program attended Latino Legislative Day Leadership workshops. To their surprise, the workshops were completely led by high school youth. Among the topics discussed were discussions around anti–Blackness in Latinx communities, mental health, and environmental justice. As youth left the workshop, they shared with the facilitators, “I learned A LOT today, I’m glad I was here”. During reflections the next day in the after school program, youth wanted to know how they could get to that level, “How do I facilitate a workshop like them when I grow up?” youth were reassured, they are already capable and on track to lead their own workshops. During the cultural enrichment segment, the lessons offered are providing youth a social justice framework.
A story about El Centro de la Raza & The Plate Fund
Since March 2020 El Centro de la Raza has been partnering with the Schultz Family Foundation to distribute funding to restaurant workers impacted by the pandemic through The Plate Fund. The Plate Fund is a one-time funding source of $500 Visa gift card that can be utilized in any store to purchases necessities like food, or even for things like online payments for utility bills or rent. During the pandemic, the restaurant industry was incredibly unstable due to the constant closing and reopening of businesses due to the changing restrictions and phases. Many restaurant workers lost income due to the businesses shutting down, to severe reductions in hours, or even contracting COVID-19 forcing them to take time off work. The pandemic has shown us how difficult it is to navigate resources, however many restaurant workers also had to deal with the language barrier that they faced when they tried to find any assistance or aid.
One participant, in particular, called El Centro de la Raza and told staff that they were rejected from many other organizations and were in desperate need of support. This participant, Martin Sanchez*, is a 70-year-old man who was not able to work as a result of his age and diabetes making him at higher risk for contracting COVID-19. His daughter was also laid off from Mcdonald’s in early March and had not been able to find work since then. Both father and daughter had exhausted the last of their savings and sold their car for further income but were in dire need of financial support as they had medical expenses as well as housing and food expenses. Due to the language barrier, technology barrier, and limited ability to read or write, the family had a difficult time accessing resources for relief. Our staff at El Centro de La Raza was able to work with them to get Martin’s daughter qualified to receive a $500 Visa gift card to the Plate Fund and referred them to receive rental assistance as well.
*Name has been changed for privacy
Vaping is Not My Thing Contest
Through an interdepartmental partnership, youth from the Plaza Roberto Maestas After School and FW Totem After School Program were invited to submitted entries to the Scholastics’ “Vaping is Not My Thing” contest. To enter the contest, participants had to create an infographic poster targeted to their peers and informing them of the dangers of vaping. Two youth of the Plaza Roberto Maestas After School program were able to submit entries. Through the process, both scholars developed their stance to say no to vaping and encourage their peers to steer away from vaping dangers. We are very proud of them both! Below is one of our scholar’s entries.
Latino Legislative Day
“Allow yourself to ask your community for help” – Nina Martinez Board Chair of Latino Civic Alliance.
on March 16th, LCA hosted the annual Latino Legislative Day. The program featured experts on COVID-19 and the Latino community, advocates for safer policing in crisis, and folks working towards reopening schools safely. We look forward to continuing to participate in this day and advocating for our Latino community. Latinos have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and are disproportionately forgotten when it comes to the vaccine. We appreciate points of view from our diverse Latino community advocating for the safety and support of our community.
Articles of Interest
Important Statements from AAPI Community Orgs in Seattle
Please take this Mount Baker Early Learning Center Survey
We have been collaborating with the University of Washington on the Mount Baker Early Learning Center. We would appreciate if you took this survey(Español), before April 6th, which will help make sure parent, educator and community voices are heard in planning for this early learning hub.
Upcoming Town Halls
Ask this targeted question:
- What actions can you take to ensure $240M of cash assistance for undocumented immigrants is included in the biennial budget?
If you get a response, please let us know! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
March 24 at 7pm
33rd District (SeaTac, Burien) – Rep Mia Gregerson + Rep Tina Orwall + Sen Karen Keiser
- Submit questions ahead of time: surveymonkey.com/r/LSTG8BR or submit questions live during the event by leaving a question in the comment section
- Facebook Live event open to all
March 31st at 6pm
For an update on the HEAL Act, which we mentioned in our last newsletter, check out this 37th Legislative District Town Hall on March 31st at 6pm. We continue to support the HEAL Act, which would take essential steps by defining environmental justice to improve all Washington residents’ environmental health conditions. This bill would prioritize improvement in areas where communities suffer most from pollution. It will be available on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter accounts for the Senate Democratic Caucus and the House Democratic Caucus. The easiest way to join will be at State Senator Saldaña’s FB page. Stay tuned for more details as the event approaches!
Working Washington’s Pay Up Campaign
Gig companies have been expanding rapidly throughout the pandemic. At the same time as they’re making their executives into billionaires, they’re getting away with paying as little as $2 a job to the people who do the work. Here’s 3 things you can do to support Working Washington’s Pay Up Campaign and help raise pay for tens of thousands of people in our city:
- Build the coalition: Share our sign on with other people and organizations. (Need more information? Let me know! Happy to share more detail about the policies we’re fighting for!)
- Spread the word: Share our worker survey with any delivery drivers & other gig workers you may know to help us make sure the policies we’re advancing are grounded in workers’ needs.
- Help make gig workers a priority at City Hall: Send a quick personal message to your city councilmembers and the mayor, letting them know that raising pay in the gig economy is a priority!
To achieve the pandemic recovery we ALL want to see, we must ensure that everyone is included in it. That means ensuring that we stabilize our workforce by protecting immigrants serving as essential workers and providing them with an earned path to citizenship. We must honor and protect those who have spent so much effort protecting us by keeping our hospitals running, stacking our grocery shelves, and cleaning our homes and offices.
We call on the Biden administration to commit to including a pathway to citizenship for essential immigration workers in the president’s Build Back Better recovery package.
Let’s truly “build back better” by stabilizing our workforce and families.
Health care should be available to all, regardless of immigration status.
Access to affordable health care is particularly crucial now, as underlying inequities have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Immigrants and communities of color are disproportionately contracting, hospitalized for, and dying from COVID-19.
Urge your lawmaker to ensure the state budget includes funding for health care services for uninsured and underinsured people regardless of immigration status
$1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan
What does President Biden’s recently enacted $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan mean for HUD and USDA housing programs and the people and communities they serve?
Housing Provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
COVID-19 has exacerbated our nation’s already severe housing affordability crisis. Today, 1 in 5 renters is behind on rent and just over 10 million homeowners are behind on mortgage payments. People of color face even greater hardship and are more likely to have deferred or missed payments, putting them at greater risk of eviction and foreclosure. At the same time, our nation’s homelessness crisis has worsened during the pandemic, as people experiencing homelessness are highly vulnerable to COVID-19 transmission, illness, and severity due to their use of congregate shelters and their high prevalence of underlying health conditions.
The Biden-Harris Administration has made delivering housing relief a top priority. Recently, the administration announced a coordinated extension and expansion of forbearance and foreclosure relief programs, an important step towards building stronger and more equitable communities.
To bolster these efforts, Congress has passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021to deliver more aid to people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021includes a number of provisions to be administered by HUD and other agencies to provide immediate and direct relief to help people across America remain stably housed during the pandemic.
Specifically, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021provides:
· Emergency rental assistance. The legislation provides more than $21.5 billion in emergency rental assistance to be administered by Treasury to help millions of families keep up on their rent and remain in their homes.
· Homeowner Assistance Fund. The legislation provides nearly $10 billion to be administered by Treasury to help homeowners behind on their mortgage and utility payments and avoid foreclosure and eviction.
· Emergency housing vouchers. The legislation provides $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness
· Homelessness assistance and supportive services program. The legislation provides $5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to help create housing and services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
· Housing assistance and supportive services programs for Native Americans. The legislation provides $750 million for Native Americans and Native Hawaiians’ assistance, helping reduce housing-related health risks during the pandemic.
· Emergency assistance for rural housing. The legislation provides $100 million to be administered by USDA to help people in rural communities keep their homes during the pandemic.
· Funds for housing counseling. The legislation provides $100 million to be administered by NeighborWorks, for grants to housing counseling providers to provide services to households facing housing instability.
· Relief measures for section 502 and 504 direct loan borrowers. The legislation provides $39 million to be administered by USDA for USDA Section 502 and 504 home loans, which help low- and very-low-income borrowers purchase, repair, and rehabilitate housing in rural areas while helping existing borrowers who are struggling to afford housing.
· Funds for fair housing activities. The legislation provides $20 million for the Fair Housing Initiatives Program to investigate fair housing complaints, strengthen enforcement, and assist those who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination.
More info on this and other programs: HUD COVID-19 Resources and Fact Sheets
El Centro de la Raza’s COVID Relief Fund
Mil gracias for your generosity and support of our Emergency Response Fund during the COVID-19 pandemic. You are helping community members rebuild their self-sufficiency during one of the worst crises in our history. With your help, we are providing emergency assistance to struggling families and small business owners. Our Emergency Response Fund has expanded our ability to answer calls for help from our community members.
With the rollout of the vaccine this year, 2021 presents opportunities for us to heal our communities and restore our local economy by getting families back to work and our children back to school. Until then, we will continue to help our community members weather the pandemic.