In less than two weeks, One LA - IAF leaders launched a pilot effort to vaccinate close to 900 senior citizens and essential workers in the hard-hit South LA community around St. Brigid Catholic Church. Originally planning to vaccinate 600 people, the two-day event accommodated hundreds more who were eligible as word spread in the community.
"The issue is vaccine access," said Jim Mangia, President and CEO of St. John's Well Child and Family Center in an interview with ABC National News. "Most people in South LA have not had access to the vaccine. There's not hesitancy- people have questions of course, but people want to get vaccinated. The issue is that there was nowhere for them to go."
Nowhere to go, that is, until One LA leaders began organizing. After months of advocating for a more equitable vaccination campaign targeting hard-hit neighborhoods, One LA leaders secured a partnership with Supervisor Holly Mitchell and medical partner St. John's Well Child & Family Center to bring the vaccines to the neighborhood around St. Brigid Catholic Church.
"Unfortunately, it is one of the least vaccinated areas in Los Angeles," said Fr. Kenneth Keke, Pastor of St. Brigid Catholic Church. "One in five residents have had Covid-19, and only 1 in 18 have been vaccinated. We are going to change that. We don't want anybody left behind."
Over the course of four days, One LA leaders went door to door, passed out flyers and called 4,000 households. The targeted approach shielded the vaccine supply from out-of-the-area "vaccine chasers," but more importantly reached people who otherwise wouldn't be able to access the vaccine at all.
Meaghan Myrtle, a 90 year old resident of the neighborhood, had been trying for months to secure an appointment. Ms. Myrtle had no access to transportation or the internet. "This church called me back. Nobody else called me back."
One LA leaders are now working to duplicate the pilot in other hard hit communities, and to work with LA County to add these neighborhood-based pop-ups to the many methods needed to vaccinate the whole county.
"A year into this pandemic, we refuse to stay at home anymore," said Phaebra Croft, a One LA leader with St. Brigid and teacher with LAUSD. "Don't let anyone try to convince you that our communities don't want this vaccine. Demand is high and will only get higher."
Group Gives Help to Vaccine Candidates, Gordon Tokumatsu, NBC 4 (Los Angeles) [video]
Fight for Vaccine Equity, Kaylee Hartung, ABC News (National) [video]
A Los Angeles Pilot Program Will Vaccinate Hundreds within a 2 Mile Radius of a Catholic Church, Alejandra Molina, Religious News Service
Hundreds of Vaccines Administered in South LA after volunteers go door to door to increase interest, John Gregory, ABC 7 (Los Angeles) [video]
Photo credit: Rafael Paz [additional photos]
At a press conference on Tuesday, February 2, One LA leaders called on LA County and LA CIty to partner with churches, schools and clinics to bring the vaccine to the neighborhoods most hard-hit by COVID-19.
"We feel like our community is left behind in this crucial time," said Rev. Kenneth Keke, pastor of St. Brigid Catholic Church in South Central LA.
As the vaccine rollout began, leaders began hearing hundreds of stories of seniors and essential workers unable to get the vaccine in neighborhoods where the virus is surging.
The Covid-19 death rate for Latinos in Los Angeles County has increased by 1000% since November. Blacks, Latinos, and Asians are all more likely to die than white residents. People living in the poorest neighborhoods are more than three times as likely to die as the residents of the wealthiest neighborhoods.
Leaders took swift action, developing a 6 point plan to close the equity gap.
"Our church is prepared to take a more active role," said Rev. Austin Doran, pastor at St. Anthony Catholic Church in San Gabriel. "If needed, the church could be used as a vaccination site. Residents are used to coming to our church. They know how to get here."
The plan calls for mobile vaccination teams that would set up temporary sites in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Leaders from neighborhood institutions educate residents about the vaccine, as well as help people sign up for the vaccine from parking lots of parishes and other sites.
"The hardest-hit communities can be identified through U.S. Census tracts with the highest incidents of COVID-19 and lowest rates of vaccination," said Diane Vanette, a leader with Temple Emanuel.
“By targeting the hot spots first, we would be able to save lives and break the chain of transmission.”
Since Tuesday, One LA leaders have heard back from county and city officials and will be meeting with them in the next week to push their strategy forward.
Churches in LA's Working Class Neighborhood Urge, "Bring the Vaccine to the People," Religious News Service, Alejandra Molina [pdf]
Covid-19 Vaccines and Seniors: What it is Like for Older Adults Getting Their Shots, Wall Street Journal, Jim Carlton and Joseph de Avila [pdf]
Biden Adminstration Charging Up Vaccination Rollout [video], NBC News, Hetty Chang
Faith Leaders Commend Supervisor Solis and Commit to Work with County on Plan to Vaccinate Hardest-Hit Neighborhoods
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
One LA - IAF leaders stand ready to work with Los Angeles County on a plan targeting hot-spot neighborhoods to break the chain of transmission and reduce racial inequity.
Faith Leaders Commend Supervisor Solis and Commit to Work with County on Plan to Vaccinate Hardest-Hit Neighborhoods
One LA-IAF leaders extend their appreciation for Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis’ leadership and swift response to the call for targeted COVID-19 vaccinations to LA County residents in the hardest hit areas of LA County: Boyle Heights, El Monte, South LA and Pacoima. These efforts will directly address and help to dismantle the racial inequalities resulting from the vaccination strategies undertaken in the recent past.
One LA-IAF institutions stand ready to collaborate with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, LA County's Department of Public Health and Health Services to remove barriers currently facing low-wage and essential workers who currently do not have access to COVID-19 vaccinations.
One LA’s 6 Point Plan is designed to provide access to vaccinations for those neighborhoods hardest hit by this pandemic. This includes:
- Target the hardest-hit neighborhoods by identifying the census tracts with the highest-incidence of Covid-19 and lowest rates of vaccination.
- Partner with trusted, local institutions – congregations, neighborhood organizations, schools – which are better suited to provide information, dispel fears and myths, and guide people through the process of registering for an appointment.
- Invest in mobile vaccination teams that can set up temporary neighborhood-level vaccination sites in the hardest-hit neighborhoods.
- Simplify the sign-up process with multiple methods to register and a large base of volunteers from trusted community institutions to do outreach.
- Use a pro-active model, rather than a passive approach, that includes door to-door canvassing in the hardest-hit areas and hardest-to-reach populations.
- Saturate hot spots until they have achieved 60-70% vaccination rates. This will break the chain of transmission and demonstrate that vaccination works, which will promote public confidence and reduce vaccine hesitancy.
One LA member institutions are trust centers made up of churches, schools, community non-profits and synagogues. Our institutions are predominately in neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the pandemic- we are also the first place Angelenos reach out to when in need. We look forward to working with Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to increase access to Covid-19 vaccinations and education that will help temper the fear and despair felt by so many individuals and families.
One LA-IAF is a broad-based organization made up of 25 member institutions, including churches, synagogues, schools, clinics and nonprofits across LA County. One LA-IAF is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the oldest and largest national organizing and leadership development network in the United States, and the West / Southwest IAF.
Contact: Robert Hoo, [email protected]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
On Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 11:30 AM via Zoom, faith and community leaders with One LA - IAF will share stories collected from hundreds of conversations with residents in low-income neighborhoods who cannot access the COVID-19 vaccine. Leaders will also share a 6 point plan for targeting hot-spot neighborhoods to make the inoculation campaign more efficient and more equitable across LA County.
Faith Leaders Urge County to Focus on Hardest-Hit Neighborhoods
At a press conference on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 11:30 AM, One LA - IAF will share on-the-ground stories as well as a six point plan for vaccination teams to partner with local institutions to bring the vaccines into hotspot neighborhoods, which epidemiologists have argued will reduce transmission and deaths, both in individual neighborhoods and in the county as a whole.
In the latest surge of COVID-19 in LA County, faith leaders in low-income neighborhoods have watched their communities disproportionately bear the brunt of severe illness and deaths.
“The last time I gave the mass at our convent, over eighty percent of the catholic sisters there had contracted COVID-19,” said Fr. Kenneth Keke, Pastor at St. Brigid Catholic Church in South LA. “My parish is just as vulnerable- our members have told me story after story of how they can’t get to the vaccine, and it is they and their elderly family members who are suffering the most.”
St. Brigid Catholic Church is a member of One LA - IAF, a broad-based organization made up of 25 member institutions, including churches, synagogues, schools, clinics and nonprofits across LA County, predominantly in neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. These neighborhoods include Pacoima, Westlake, Pico-Union, South LA, Compton, Boyle Heights and El Monte, whose residents have been dying at rates three times higher than those in the county as a whole.
Since LA County began its vaccination campaign, One LA leaders have held hundreds of conversations with their members to find out who has been getting the vaccine, and who is being left behind.
“It makes no sense to me,” said Ortencia Ramirez, a parishioner at San Gabriel Mission and a leader with One LA - IAF. “I’m over 65 and a care-taker for my mother who is in an assisted living center. I have tried for days to get an appointment for the vaccine and had no luck with the County’s system or even my health care provider. Like me, there are hundreds of others at the Mission that have been shut out.”
Maps produced by LA County show staggering levels of spatial inequality. COVID-19 disproportionately impacts poor and minority neighborhoods where essential workers are forced to live in overcrowded conditions. For example, 9 people have died from Covid-19 in Brentwood, while 202 people have died in Westlake, near MacArthur Park.
“Our members are dying. We can’t wait for our families to get through the portals and the lines, while those with internet savvy, time and reliable transportation jump to the front of the queue,” said Fr. Arturo Corral, Pastor at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church (La Placita) in downtown LA. “We want the county and city vaccination teams to come to us. La Placita stands ready to partner with health officials to implement a plan that targets the hardest-hit neighborhoods.”
One LA-IAF joins the countless people and institutions in Los Angeles and across the country who are shocked and angered by the brutal murder of George Floyd. We are also troubled by those, especially elected officials, who refuse to address the racism and gross inequities that have been exposed and instead resort to inflammatory speeches and measures.
As a multi-faith coalition of churches, synagogues and other institutions committed to civic measures for justice, representing thousands of families, we stand with those who protest the injustices. We extend support to those doubly victimized by the COVID-19 pandemic, by racism and other forms of economic and legal inequality that blight our society. We declare our commitment to increasing our efforts to undo the damage and to create a society worthy of our religious and political traditions.
One LA-IAF will continue to organize across lines of race, class, ethnicity, religion, geography, and political perspective. We will fight to address the inequities that lead to higher death rates from COVID-19 in African-American, Latino, and Pacific Islander communities. We will fight to ensure that California supports all essential workers, including undocumented workers, so that no one gets left behind. We will continue coming together from diverse backgrounds to listen, deliberate, and organize as One LA.
We urge those who work for a just and equitable America to not allow divisive rhetoric win. We urge our members to come together to strengthen our efforts to fix the deep and deadly holes in the fabric of our society. We believe in the goodwill of the people of this city and country, and call upon all to strengthen the efforts to create the Los Angeles and the United States envisioned by our best founders and that deserve our respect.
On Tuesday evening, May 5, over 1,200 California IAF leaders, 10 Bishops and 7 state legislators converged on Zoom and Facebook Live to demand the Governor and legislature provide immediate relief for essential workers left out of state and federal relief.
"There are millions of California workers who take care of our elders, our children, grow our food, and get it to the stores. Many of them are undocumented, but their work contributes billions of dollars to the California economy," said Rev. Dr. Julie Roberts-Fronk, Co-Chair of the action and a leader with ICON.
Undocumented immigrants represent 10% of the California workforce, pay over $3 billion in state and local taxes and add $180 billion to the economy. They comprise 33% of agricultural workers and 32% of healthcare workers in California, working at great personal risk during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"During this pandemic, there is a tendency to throw people to the margins, to throw them into the shadows,"said Bishop Jaime Soto, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.
"What we need to do is develop a culture of encounter, a culture of solidarity to beat back the coronavirus and to create a healthy and safe network. We need to recognize the flaw in the Cal EITC. It leaves out California workers and taxpayers, which not only jeopardizes their lives, it also jeopardizes the well being of the entire state of California."
"Immigrant workers are not draining our economy, they are subsidizing it," said Senator Maria Elena Durazo. "We would not be the fifth largest economy in the world without them."
Earlier this month, the California IAF and the California Catholic Conference wrote letters to Governor Newsom, urging him to expand the California Earned Income Tax Credit (Cal EITC) to include ITIN filers, many of whom are undocumented. The tax credit would put much needed dollars quickly back into the hands of working families. Studies show that for every 1 dollar invested in workers, the local economy generates 2 dollars.
Maria Elena Manzo, a leader with COPA has worked with a group of women in Salinas for many years to spread the word about the Cal EITC.
"When they first learned about the tax credit, they were very excited. One woman said, 'this is going to come at a perfect time, the agricultural season has not started yet and we are struggling right now.' Her hopes vanished when she learned she wasn’t going to get the credit, but it did not stop her from helping others."
Leaders secured commitments from state legislators to work with their six organizations to advance the legislation during upcoming budget hearings, and to press the Governor to find the money. They also committed to meeting with local organizations within two weeks, and joining regional civic academies on the issue to build a larger constituency.
Immigrant Workers Face Economic Uncertainty During Covid-19 Shutdown, America Magazine
Lideres religiosos piden mas apoyo para la comunidad inmigrante, [VIDEO] Telemundo Bay Area
Local Faith Leaders Support Undocumented Workers, Los Altos Crier
Faith Leaders Call on State to Support Undocumented Immigrants, The Pajaronian
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
On Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 6 PM, Bishop Jaime Soto of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento along with 1,000 other faith and community leaders from the California Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) will convene on Zoom with state legislators to call on Governor Newsom to do much more for essential workers during the pandemic.
“A huge number of our essential workers -- immigrants -- have been left out of federal and state relief. Without them, we literally could not feed ourselves or care for our families during this crisis,” said Maria Elena Manzo, a leader with Sacred Heart Catholic Church and COPA.
In California, 1 out of 10 workers are undocumented immigrants, and their labor is overwhelmingly in work deemed essential during the Covid-19 pandemic -- agriculture, food production, food distribution, food service, child care and elder care among other industries. The federal government has excluded undocumented immigrants from relief, and Governor Newsom’s initiatives to date will provide small cash payments to only 150,000 of the 2.2 million essential immigrant workers -- less than 7 percent.
“It is morally wrong, and it is careless from a public health and economic perspective to leave essential workers without cash payments and without adequate protection during a pandemic. The people who feed us shouldn’t have to rely on charity to feed and protect themselves,” said Janet Hirsch, a leader with Temple Isaiah and One LA - IAF.
One of the policy asks for this meeting will be to expand the California Earned Income Tax Credit (Cal EITC) to all workers who pay taxes, including a large number of undocumented immigrants. The CDC cites an analysis of the economic impact of a federal EITC in California, which found that payments contributed to more than $5 billion in business sales in the state and helped add nearly 30,000 jobs.
“We don’t want charity for these workers, we want justice,” said Rev. Robin Mathews-Johnson, a leader with Watsonville First United Methodist Church and COPA. “Our neighbors and friends are putting their lives on the line for us right now. They pay 3.2 billion dollars in state and local taxes. Investing back into these families right now is not just the right thing to do, it is good for our economy. It is good for all Californians.”
The May 5 California IAF convening represents 8 broad-based organizations from across the state, covering Southern California, the Inland Empire, Central Coast, Bay Area and parts of the Central Valley and Far North. Local organizations work with faith communities, unions, schools and other institutions to teach people the habits and practices of public life. All organizations are nonpartisan, multi-issue and multilingual.
Several state legislators including Senator Maria Elena Durazo (Los Angeles), Assembly-member David Chiu (San Francisco), and Assembly-member Eloise Gomez-Reyes (San Bernardino) will respond to the IAF leaders’ agenda.
Want to attend? Register here: bit.ly/CA-Safety-Net
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans on April 15 to make $75 million available to help undocumented workers left out of unemployment relief programs like the CARES Act, but California Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organizations say this is not enough. One LA-IAF leaders, with the rest of the state network, are calling on Governor Newsom to do more for undocumented immigrants.
“Governor Newsom’s plan to help undocumented immigrants is woefully inadequate, said One LA leader Janet Hirsch. "What is owed in justice should never be given in charity.”
"Our immigrants make California a beautiful state," said Father Arturo Corral of Our Lady Queen of Angels / La Placita. "We need to always ask [the governor] to do his best."
Leaders with [COPA-IAF, One LA-IAF, Inland Communities Organizing Network (ICON), Bay Area IAF, and Common Ground are calling] for several initiatives to help undocumented workers including: expanding the eligibility of State Disability Insurance to workers unemployed because of Covid-19 but ineligible for unemployment insurance; sending $1,200 to any Californian who qualified for the California Earned Income Tax Credit last year or this year; expanding no-cost to low-cost hotel options to agricultural workers; making more money available to food banks and school districts feeding students.
[Photo by Chava Sanchez, LAist]
Newsom Announces Covid-19 Relief For Undocumented Workers; Advocates Say It's Inadequate, Monterey County Weekly [pdf]
California Bishops Ask Governor to Increase Aid to Undocumented and Low-Wage Workers During Pandemic, California Catholic Conference of Bishops
Letter to Governor Newsom, California IAF