By Kathy Chouteau
Amid the pandemic, they’re caring for children, providing day labor, working in food service roles and fulfilling many other essential jobs. But Contra Costa County’s more than 77,500 undocumented immigrants, who make up roughly 7 percent of the county’s workforce, are not eligible to benefit from federal stimulus programs. Fear of immigration enforcement, and also language and cultural barriers, can also prevent this community from pursuing benefits for which they do qualify.
But like everyone else, this community is struggling to keep afloat during the pandemic, as highlighted in a recent fund report by RCF Connects, (the Richmond Community Foundation).
A new fundraising initiative launched by RCF Connects, the “Contra Costa Undocu-Fund,” seeks to do something about this disparity. The organization aims to provide direct financial support to undocumented residents—and their families (who may have both documented and undocumented members)—as well as the local nonprofit partners who serve them.
The fund’s interventive assistance will roll out in three phases. The first phase, an immediate response during the fund’s first six months, will focus on housing, rental assistance and utilities as its areas of support.
The second phase, a short term recovery that will take place over a six month period, will center on expanding financial assistance to residents and the nonprofits serving them, as well as providing infrastructure supports for small local business and community-based organizations serving immigrant/undocumented communities.
Phase three of the fund, a long-term recovery plan for beyond the first six months, RCF Connects aims to work with its partners to establish a participatory grant making process.
RCF Connects’ fund partners include Catholic Charities of the East Bay, The Latina Center, Familias Unidas, Monument Impact, Village Community Resource Center and Multicultural Institute Day Labor Center.
Per RCF Connects, criteria the partner organizations will consider when determining eligibility for undocumented residents and their families to receive fund support will include:
Those who are undocumented (those formerly incarcerated or currently on parole or probation will not be denied); those who don’t have access to other relief or that which is available is insufficient; those without health insurance or who are underinsured; those who have been laid off during the shelter-in-place, or their source of income has been paused/suspended due to shelter in place; those unable to pay rent or who face housing insecurity; those enrolled in college under the Dream Act and who may be struggling financially to maintain enrollment; those having trouble buying food, even after they have been connected to food distribution, and whose children receive free/reduced lunch; those having trouble buying essential supplies for their family (i.e., a family with a chronic health condition that is having trouble paying for a prescription); those who have demonstrated that they have no other options and are having difficulty finding a way to survive; and those who have other extenuating circumstances as determined by the partner.