How are individuals and communities responding to the public health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19?
What happens when there is a forfeiture not only of pragmatic solutions to containing the virus but also a failure of ethical leadership and moral imagination at the highest levels of government? Neighbors unite. People take care of each other. Communities join hands.
We work together from the bottom up. It is at the local community level that the truly dynamic power of neighbors helping neighbors is being witnessed right now, which is what Stimulus For All is a part of.
A few friends and I decided to organize a campaign committed to the redistribution of stimulus funds to nonprofits and local organizing efforts working directly with those who have been affected the most by this pandemic. We are a grassroots movement that is elevating local efforts, organizations, and communities aware of the most acute needs and working tirelessly day in and day out to meet them. We are supporting those who are doing the supporting work on the ground in a variety of places nationwide where our partners are located.
What can RLC readers do to participate?
They can head over to the Stimulus For All website and browse our partner organizations, decide where they want to give, and follow the link provided which will bring them directly to the partner’s website where they can donate. It’s simple, streamlined, and 100% of funds will be used where they are needed most.
Could you tell us a bit about the current state of COVID related government financial assistance?
The CARES Act has provided crucial financial resources for millions of people who are out of work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who earn less than $75,000 annually and pay taxes using a Social Security number are eligible to receive $1,200 as well as $500 per child. At the state level, California has rolled out a $75 million aid package to assist 150,000 people who were left out of the federal stimulus assistance due to their immigration status. Individuals are receiving $500, with a maximum of $1,000 per household. Hopefully, other states will follow California’s lead, or the federal government will include more of us in the next relief bill. But for now, government assistance at the federal and state level is severely lacking.
And who has been left out of stimulus funds and why?
Corporations and businesses are receiving the majority of the $2 trillion in COVID-19 relief while millions are excluded. There are an estimated 8-10 million tax paying workers, mostly undocumented immigrants, who file using an individual taxpayer identification number, or ITIN. The vast majority are low-wage earners in the farming, construction, production, and service industries. They will not be receiving a stimulus and are not eligible for unemployment. Many are considered essential workers but have been completely barred from any form of government financial assistance related to the pandemic. Asylum seekers and newly arrived refugees aren’t included in COVID-19 resources and are facing significant hardships during this time. Some US citizens–the children of undocumented immigrants–are being excluded from these funds as well. The fact is that many of our neighbors are left out of critically important COVID relief simply because of their immigraiton status.
Why is this important for people to take part in?
Lila Watson, Indigenous Australian artist, activist, and academic wrote, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” Supporting those who have been barred from COVID-19 financial relief isn’t about charity. It’s about justice. It’s about recognizing we are all connected regardless of our immigration status and taking action because we know our liberation is inextricably tied to the flourishing of our migrant neighbors. Supporting grassroots movements helps build local capacity, enhances a sense of agency, and empowers those who need financial resources to continue their work of being catalysts of compassion care in the midst of a catastrophic public health emergency. We can thrive together.