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
Over the past month, One LA has adapted and doubled down on efforts to reach those most impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and "Safer at Home" policy. Here's a round-up of what we've been doing:
One LA Connect
Social distancing does not mean social isolation. A team of One LA leaders has been hard at work to overcome the digital divide, scheduling ongoing trainings on how to use Zoom in English and Spanish. One LA is also working with our member institutions to establish Care Teams to reach the most vulnerable members of our communities, uncovering pressures related to food, housing, health and income. If you would like to get connected, please let us know here.
Many workers have lost hours, been furloughed or even laid off during the last few weeks, while many small businesses are struggling to maintain payroll. Tenants and homeowners are worried about making the rent or mortgage payments.
So, One LA leaders have been using Zoom and conference calls to conduct civic academies on Protecting Tenants in English and Spanish, Navigating Unemployment Insurance and the Payroll Protection Plan, as well as working to develop resource guides for immigrants who have been left out of federal aid packages. We are also organizing calls and research actions with decision-makers in LA County to get resources to our communities quickly.
If you would like to learn more about these topics and begin to share the information with others in your institutions, please click here.
One LA is participating in the We Count LA campaign to get out the count in 2020. A crisis like this is a good reminder of why we need government--many of our hospitals and emergency response systems come from federal funding. If jobs and infrastructure projects are passed in the coming months to help people find work, funds are allocated based upon our census counts.
As of today, only 40% of LA County residents have responded to the census.
If you haven't yet filled out the census, you can do it online here.
If you would like to learn more about the census and get training on how to get out the count during these challenging times, please tell us here. We'll be organizing more virtual ways to connect in the weeks ahead.
IAF ORGANIZATIONS WORKING TOGETHER
On Saturday, April 4th, One LA leaders participated in a Zoom conference with over 250 other leaders from our sister Industrial Areas Foundation organizations across the country. The conference was organized to understand more about the present and future economic impact of the virus, especially on low wage workers, senior citizens and immigrants. The call was joined by prominent economists Teresa Ghilarducci and Richard McGahey from the New School of Social Research. More seminars are being organized to help local organizations work to strengthen our social safety net and create opportunities for workforce training and employment in the months ahead and can be accessed here.
Want to know what other IAF organizations have accomplished in the last few weeks? Get the news here!
By: Diane Vanette, One LA Leader, Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills
There are times when we get so caught up in changing this world from what it is to what it should be we lose sight of where we are going.
Several years back with the passing of the ACA, or Obamacare to some, health care was on everyone’s agenda. One LA-IAF put much effort into training people to enroll the low income and immigrant population into a health care plan that the county of Los Angeles would provide. Access to their own medical home was not just in their self-interest, but in my self-interest as well. Fewer people ending up in an emergency room would mean my insurance premiums would not rise. I, like many others, shared in the cost to treat the uninsured. Seeing a doctor in a clinic near your home could mean lower premiums for us all. So, with the help of some soft money, money with strings attached, we trained our leaders and organized events where we enrolled over 140,000 Angelino’s in their own parishes or schools into the My Health LA program. This felt good to us and was good for Los Angeles County.
But with this huge success came the realization that we were neglecting ourselves. Folks burned out. We were not recruiting new member institutions. My core team grew smaller and smaller. I needed help to take on the next challenge.
California has a budget the size of the 5th largest country in the world. Los Angeles County has over 10 million inhabitants. This is about the size of the 7th largest state in the United States. Every day I witness the extravagance of the wealthy and the despair of so many others. Don’t get me wrong. Life can be wonderful in sunny California. But I feel my heart ache every day as I look around my city. With this population the budget for the county of Los Angeles is over 30 Billion dollars. If I want to help bring people to the table to better their lives I have to be in conversation with them and the people who make the money spending decisions. But to get a place at the table it takes the work of Institutional Organizing. I need to be trained to have those relational conversations that build power, help recruit new institutions, and continue creating the change my neighbors and I deserve. The soft money we had to bring access to health care to thousands couldn’t help us hire talented new organizers. Only the hard money, dues from our institutions or money raised could make that happen.
Back to Basics (Why all organizing is disorganizing and re-organizing)
As we struggled along for a few years we were still able to win some victories. We focused some effort on training immigrants at “Know your Rights” workshops.
We held civic academies and formed an alliance with the LAPD to fight sex trafficking. We formed a team of leaders to strategize about these new challenges. But we were becoming more of an issue-based organization, not one that could build relational power. Every time a discussion of money came up at our strategy team meeting, there was silence. Why was it so hard to talk about money? We all knew that we needed it. But I never thought of myself as a fundraiser. ‘I’m just not good at asking for money’, said that little voice in my head. Talking about money is not the kind of conversation to have when there are so many other challenges ahead. Wasn’t that the job of the “professional” organizer? I remember seeing folks looking at each other as if the person on your left or right was going to take on the job of raising money. ‘Thank goodness it didn’t have to be me.’
But the more agitated I became, the more I felt something had to change within me. If I was to be the leader I wanted to be, I had to own the task. I had to ensure that this huge place called Los Angeles and One LA had the organizers we needed to really get at the table and stay at the table. I wanted to develop a new core team in my institution. I wanted power.
Fortunately, a couple of very talented IAF organizers, with the help of Ernesto Cortes Jr., decided to join with us in Los Angeles. With some guidance and the help of one of our institutional leaders who had experience raising money we formed a small group of leaders who were ready to take on this challenge. I jumped in. As the work around the community continued we began to have quarterly delegate assemblies. Core team leaders from all of our institutions came to ratify our plans to put out a vision for the future and to set a goal to raise $50,000. Our effort paid off and we reached that goal by the end of last year.
If our vision for 2020 was to become a reality: taking on immigration; doing more know your rights workshops for hundreds of people; getting city money for legal representation for victims of illegal eviction; tackling the homeless crisis; working with the LA County Department of Mental Health to include mental health benefits for My Health LA recipients; or partnering with the city attorney and LAPD to work to end sex trafficking, we had to focus our work on recruitment and the raising of hard money. Hard money has no strings attached.
We decided to focus our action on July 21, 2019 on ourselves. With every action there is a reaction. Every institution had to reflect on raising money and recruitment if we wanted to get down to business. Two months before the action we scheduled planning sessions so we were prepared to bring the institutions together to caucus. Decisions were made in the room about dues commitments, ways to raise additional monies, and new institutions to recruit. The public business that got done was personal. We also strengthened relationships with two elected officials who are likely to run for mayor of Los Angeles and one of the LA County Supervisor seats that will be vacant next year. Remember that 30 Billion-dollar county budget? It is going to take our money to build the power to negotiate for some of that money.
I am energized and focused on the work I must do. It feels good to say I share these feelings with my partners in One LA. In 2020 we will see more clearly.
One LA Leaders teach the importance of hard money, and pledge their commitments for raising hard money through dues pledges and an investment campaign. ~ July 21, 2019
One LA leaders and allies from St. John's Well Child and Family Center, Clinica Romero and the Building Healthy Communities effort in Boyle Heights testified in support of the program's preservation.
The Board of Supervisors also voted to direct the Director of Mental Health to come up with a funding plan for providing mental health services to MHLA patients at primary care settings. This is a major step forward toward increasing access to mental health services, which has been a big priority for One LA. Leaders recognized Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Katherine Barger for introducing the motion, and the entire Board of Supervisors for addressing the need for increased access to mental health services.
Temple Emanuel hosted the conference Immigration: Moving Beyond the Partisan Divide with special participation from Rabbi Sarah Bassin, Bishop David O'Connell, Shukry Cattan of the Tiyya Foundation, and the Industrial Areas Foundation National Co-Director, Ernesto Cortes, Jr.
Conference attendees discussed the moral and economic arguments in support of immigration, and highlighted local efforts to support immigrants and refugees. A project initiated by Temple Judea and Our Lady of Grace on citizenship classes inspired many leaders to consider following suit.