Cross-sector initiative aids local Latinx community
Latinx communities across the US are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 based on a variety of factors. For instance, these communities have strong representation in service industry jobs, from health care to childcare to food service. Due to frequent contact with the public, employment in the service sector increases risk of infection and can lead to community spread. These jobs may also lack health insurance or paid sick leave, and these individuals may be less likely to seek testing. Residents, especially those who are undocumented, often live in densely clustered housing, which can make quarantine challenging and lead to COVID-19 transmission.
Data from two local Health Districts in June revealed the pandemic's dramatic effect on our Latinx/Hispanic neighbors; in the City of Richmond, the Latinx population makes up just 6% of the overall community but 32% of all COVID-19 cases; and in Chesterfield County, the Latinx community is 9% of the population but 15% of all cases.
With great concern, state and local health officials immediately requested help from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC sent a taskforce of bilingual epidemiologists and community outreach specialists to Richmond to offer expertise and eventually, resources from the CDC Foundation. The taskforce found that Richmond shared similar challenges to other US cities combating the pandemic with the Latino population, such as a distrust among the undocumented and those with mixed family status or the fear of losing employment if found positive for COVID-19. Unlike other cities, however, they saw an innovative cross-sector initiative being formed to tackle the humanitarian crisis. CDC Leaders shared that the approach being taken in Richmond is a model for the rest of the country, when dealing with vulnerable communities. Furthermore, according to CDC data, if Richmond can successfully overcome barriers to quarantine, every resident stands to benefit from an 86% reduction in community transmission.
The Local Response
Representatives from the health departments, the funding community, nonprofit partners and public leaders have been convening and quickly deploying resources to address the vital needs of the local Latinx/Hispanic population. Health officials are expanding testing access, using contact tracing, helping to ensure residents have resources to safely recover in isolation and are providing communities with masks to help limit the spread. Since July, $1.1M has been mobilized by several public and private sources and 15 organizations are working collaboratively to provide a first phase humanitarian response that includes:
- $500k from the CDC Foundation for Richmond Memorial Health Foundation (RMHF) to serve as a fiscal sponsor
- $250k from the Open Society Foundations to the City with HOME as the fiscal agent for rental assistance
- $100k from the Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund for native Spanish Speaking Navigators and Community Health Workers and support for fund development and strategic planning
- $50k from RMHF for capacity building to organizations serving the population
- $200k in CARES Act from the City of Richmond for funding to address needs
Already, $190k has been deployed to the Sacred Heart Center, LIVE and Southside Community Development to support rent, utility, food and other basic needs for families they serve. The community response is bolstered and sustained by the work of the health safety net clinics, FeedMore, Waymakers, and other local organizations. Additional money raised for this initiative will be used for rent and utility payments, food, income replacement, Navigators and Community Health Workers and capacity development. This initiative will continue to leverage broad collaboration and innovative strategies to explore existing structures, practices, and culture with the local Latinx/Hispanic population and an ultimate goal of sustained, systemic change for this community that has been so adversely affected by COVID-19.
To learn more about this initiative, download our handout or contact Scott Blackwell for more information.