Read Action for Equity's One Massachusetts Community Response to COVID-19.
Within our member community groups, partners, networks, coalitions and campaigns, we are closely connected to community residents, particularly in communities of color. We are hearing what people are facing. Read the One Massachusetts Community Response to COVID-19--issues we have heard in our campaigns and from others. In the days to come, we will be posting both resources and how to join together in action.
One Massachusetts Community Response to COVID-19
Action for Equity has reached out to bring together demands from our campaigns and for many other important issues. 3.20.20
The pandemic has shown that the priorities are upside down by putting the interests of the most privileged ahead of the most defenseless. Some of us can’t stay home and miss a paycheck or need to work to help out the rest of us. There are children who are dependent on two meals a day from school. Immigrants (documented and undocumented) may be too afraid to get treated for illnesses because they fear being caught up in the hostile, punitive immigration system. Many of our residents can’t get treated for illnesses because they have no health insurance. The incarcerated population without the ability to self-quarantine are at high risk, coupled with the existing inadequate access to proper health care. Many tenants are living in fear of the effects of the increased numbers of evictions that will be fueled by this crisis.
We are community-based organizations in Massachusetts. Our members are Black, Brown, Indigenous, and White. We are recent immigrants and families here for generations. We speak many languages. We represent many of the most marginalized among us, including people with disabilities and compromised immune systems.
We are working to see our communities through the global pandemic of COVID-19. Together, during these challenging times, we are reorienting our collective resources for the care and survival of our most vulnerable residents, seniors, working individuals and families, the imprisoned, the at-risk of eviction, as we weather together this storm of uncertainties.
This virus is revealing to us the interconnectedness of our world in a very personal way. It is showing, conclusively, that the health and well-being of one is intimately bound to the health and well-being of all. Only by working together will we triumph in the face of this outbreak.
As community-based organizations, we must and will provide the connection to our people. We are reaching out and listening, providing services and making referrals where and when possible, gathering information on what people are saying and experiencing, to make sure people’s true experiences are heard.
Health care access:
- Immediate access to free testing for all symptomatic individuals or those at high risk.
- Establishment of free treatment and quarantine facilities to minimize the spread of the disease.
- Access to mental health and support services for those in social isolation, especially elders.
- No Medicaid work requirements
- Access to medical care for all people - regardless of their citizenship status and ability to pay
- Communicate effective prevention strategies to vulnerable populations in their native languages, as well as in plain, simple English
- Vaccines, when available, be provided free of charge
- All emergency efforts are communicated in multiple languages, as well as in plain, simple English
- Refuse to allow ICE and Border Patrol officers into hospitals and public buildings
- Local elected leaders call on the federal government to suspend all ICE raids so that vulnerable patients won’t be deterred from seeking help.
- Immediate steps be put in place and communicated for prevention in shelters.
- Health insurance companies must allow Massachusetts residents an extra 6 months to make Health Connector payments without loss of coverage
Housing and utilities:
- Immediate statewide moratorium on evictions.
- Immediate statewide moratorium on foreclosures.
- No mortgage payments due to banks and lenders by small landlords rents are not being paid or by low income owner occupants.
- No utility or internet shut offs during emergency and for 3 months after the end of the emergency.
- Phone/internet providers suspend data caps during emergency.
Jobs, work and income
- Universal basic income for all
- Income can be from unemployment, workers comp, sick days or any other source, or a new universal basic income
- This is income for everyone regardless of status whether employed, self-employed, tipped, gig, contract, self-employed creatives, or working for cash
- This is income regardless of the reason for loss of income: whether the loss of income is from loss of customers, business shut down, need to be quarantined, or need to provide care to others
- Immediate safety net income for those without access to other income, including undocumented families, those without bank accounts, cash workers, and any others in need
- Big rich employers like Amazon must pay sick days and other benefits and should not receive any bailout if their employees are not protected by their payments
- Exposure and quarantine when in a high contact job or when need to take public transit to job—whether gig or temp or employee is automatically considered work-related so income is replaced by workers comp with no waiting period.
- Gig platform owners are determined to be employer of records and responsible for all income replacement.
- Institute a state hotline to report health and safety concerns at work and get immediate inspections
- Supports provided to health workers and others required to work in the emergency including child care assistance.
- Ensure access to computers for online access to unemployment and similar services in communities where access has previously been provided at libraries and community organizations.
- Provide reduced fares or no fares for bus routes through environmental justice communities.
- No parking fees at hospitals, clinics or other health institutions.
- Any transit reductions must ensure transit access to transit-dependent communities.
Action for Equity is currently working on the preceding four issues extensively. But we know other issues are important. Below we have listed some of those.
- Immediate release of incarcerated individuals over the age of 65 and those with chronic illness/underlying health conditions
- Immediate release of individuals in pre-trial detention
- Early release of individuals who are within a year of completing their sentence
- Release incarcerated youth to community care programs
- No loss of rights to permanent status, citizenship, asylum or anything else for using any public benefits.
- All health care facilities, pharmacies, and other service delivery areas are made ICE-free zones.
- All emergency and support information communicated in all needed languages and through multi-lingual news media.
- Local elected leaders call on the federal government to:
- Suspend ICE raids so that vulnerable patients won’t be deterred from seeking help
- Release all elderly, families with small children, sick and immune-compromised people from detention centers and take steps to ensure the health and safety of all those remaining in detention, including providing adequate health care.
- Extend census data collection until at least 3 months after the pandemic is over.
- No state, city or civic development decision-making for single sites or planning areas, since there is no public participation. (In Boston, decision-making bodies have been left active, while public meetings have been shut down.)
- Expand internet access in communities with limited access, including establishing a plan for access in locations where access had been dependent on services that are now closed like libraries and social service agencies.
- School breakfast and lunch pick up at convenient locations required now that all schools are closed.
- Extend the deadline for school funding formula hearings and decisions.