THE PEOPLE’S STORIES

This is a “now” moment for our communities. We must educate ourselves, inspire each other through our stories of resilience, and advocate for one another by demanding policies that address immediate needs as well as long-term social, economic, education, and health disparities post the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Representatives in Congress need to hear from us so we can get the rent and mortgage relief we need! Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters and the entire LA County Congressional Delegation has already taken important action to provide necessary relief, but we need to urge Congress to forgive all rent and mortgage payments, incentivize fair rental and lending practices by landlords and lenders, and transform distressed properties into permanently affordable housing for our communities, keeping them out of the hands of speculators.

OUR STORIES MATTER

From nurses to farmworkers — working people of California are doing our part to care for one another and to help us all get through this crisis. In these times of monumental crisis, people rely on our government to be there for us and prioritize our collective health and wellbeing. Californians are urging representatives and state leaders to not repeat the mistakes of the past by making the same decisions that left us vulnerable and unprepared for this crisis. Instead, leaders can have the courage to care and choose to invest in health, jobs and education now when we need these things the most.

THE PEOPLE’S RESPONSE

COVID-19 has brought America face-to-face with its pervasive inequities. What we see in the news about a flattening of the curve may be true for wealthier whites, but that is not the case in low-income and Black and Latinx communities. In Los Angeles, race, class, and place are strongly linked. Generations of racial and economic segregation have resulted in the concentration of low-income and people of color in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities that have been exposed to toxic chemicals and other unhealthy land uses, failing infrastructure, and lack of access to services. Advancement Project California recently released How Race, Class, and Place Fuel a Pandemic, an interactive policy brief that shows how COVID-19 has shifted geographically and taken hold in predominantly Black and Latinx communities in Los Angeles.

COVID-19 has exposed entrenched racial inequities and amplified xenophobic narratives. The gaping divide in our education system, barriers to healthcare, housing, employment, and technology, as well as the lack of a social safety net and voter suppression exacerbated by the pandemic speak to a broken system. To support communities of color throughout Los Angeles, CoCo engaged our community through two digital events (see videos below) in conjunction with our partners of base-building, faith, labor and advocacy organizations. Together we have drafted a comprehensive list of demands that must be implemented as we move forward in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Digital Community Forum: COVID-19 & The Black Community

The People’s Assembly: Race, Equity & COVID-19

THE PEOPLE’S DEMANDS

Despite decades of disinvestment, many of the most heavily-impacted communities have trusted home-grown community infrastructure and institutions that deploy resources to meet people’s immediate needs. The pandemic and its multi-pronged threat requires us to act with speed to equitably deliver resources to low-income communities of color based on their exposure risk, their prevalence of underlying conditions, and their lack of access to critical services and infrastructure. This is a matter of equity – but since no Angeleno will be safe from this virus until all of us are, it is also the only option to safeguard the lives of all.

To support our communities, we offer the following immediate recommendations. We are excited to work alongside our community partners, philanthropy and those that have been working on the front lines of this health crisis – particularly those in the County’s Departments of Public Health and Department of Health Services – to ensure the health and safety of everyone, regardless of race and income. These recommendations are focused on short-term needs to get through the worst of this crisis. Long-term, far more must be done to remedy underlying disparities, including a major investment of public health resources and services in high-need regions; those recommendations are in development and will be forthcoming.

Culturally appropriate public education campaigns.

  • Campaigns should be designed and executed with local, authentic community leaders that have pre-existing relationships and trust with those communities, and should be delivered through established media channels (such as La Opinion, the Sentinel, KJLH, and Univision).
  • The content should be developed collaboratively, but must emphasize that both testing and treatment are free for patients, since it is completely subsidized by the state of California.
  • Community-based organizations, including nonprofits, congregations, labor unions, and others, should also be leveraged to reach out to their membership directly either through phone-banking or through use of “neighborhood education teams” that include organizers and gang intervention workers who have credibility and familiarity with the neighborhoods and residents.
Funding and equipment for local community clinics and other parts of the local infrastructure that have trust and relationships in the neighborhoods.
  • Community clinics in the hardest-hit communities must immediately receive additional resources for testing and personal protective equipment for their workers.
  • All health providers in these neighborhoods should also partner with community-based groups to help get the word out to their constituencies about the availability of increased testing and services.
  • There must also be coordination with law enforcement to ensure that unnecessarily-high police presence does not interfere or discourage residents from accessing services.
  • For those who do not have reliable access to telephone services, additional testing options beyond the 211 appointment system must be made available.
  • All individuals who live and work in county youth and adult detention facilities must be tested to ensure their safety, and the safety of the households and communities to which they return. Youth and adult detention facility staff should be screened daily through questionnaires and temperature checks.
  • If a person tests positive but does not have a housing situation allowing them to safely quarantine, they should be provided free, voluntary options for medical shelter.
An increase in personal protective equipment, cleaning and sanitation supplies, and food and meals, especially for seniors, in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Residents must be protected at work, in their homes, and when they are out and about for essential shopping and errands.
  • This should be happen concurrently with a surge in PPE and cleaning supplies at work sites with a high concentration of low-income workers of color, particularly in the care and service sectors, regardless of where such work sites are located.
  • Community-based organizations in the hardest-hit communities should be leveraged as neighborhood distribution points for these critical supplies to reinforce their trust and ties to community residents AND to strengthen their standing as critical institutions needed to weather this current crisis as well as to support an equitable approach to any recovery as the virus subsides.
An equity-based response that does NOT:
  1. Use messaging or framing that suggests that their vulnerability is somehow the fault of these communities themselves because of lifestyle choices and cultural practices.
  2. Increase policing to enforce stay-at-home order. We plan to track the race-based police stop data made available by SB 1421, and public officials will be held accountable if the pandemic leads to increased criminalization of highly-impacted communities.
  3. Punish family-centric practices and culture. Physical distancing is taking a toll on Angelenos. It especially runs counter to Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and people of color’s family-centric cultural norms. Enforcement measures must be culturally astute not punitive. Community leaders can help develop creative ideas for how we can continue to support one another while keeping risks low.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic response is the crucible of our time. It has simultaneously laid bare systemic racial and economic inequities and uplifted the capacity of community driven infrastructure to deploy to meet existential threats. We are a long way from repairing the harm caused by inequitable systems; nonetheless, we are at a critical juncture. The time to center equity in our immediate and long-term response has arrived.