Over the past year, hate crimes against Asian Americans across the country have grown by nearly 150 percent. Violent acts and racist dialogue about the coronavirus pandemic have caused Asian Americans to fear for their lives and the wellbeing of their communities.
Similar to the injustices that we addressed with the Black Lives Matter last June, our emotions have been laid bare and are raw. The pain continues to deepen and points to systemic racism that we as a nation have failed to address. There is still much that needs to be done. We are again challenged to move past pain and frustration while still using these feelings to hold us accountable to move change forward.
At United Way of San Diego County, we accept the challenge and recommit to Live United with communities of color and people of color. We stand with our Asian American and Pacific Islander community members during this painful time, and we will continue to fight injustices and systemic racism wherever they might exist.
Recently, we have experienced two terrible tragedies that have put a blazing spotlight on inequities in our country. Our country, in fact the world, has been shut down from an unprecedented pandemic. Over 100,000 people have died in the United States. Those most likely to die are African American and Latinx due to health and economic inequities. In addition, the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police officers – whose duty is to protect and serve – has further intensified the spotlight on racial inequities that are everyday realities for primarily African American and Latinx people.
Our emotions have been laid bare and are raw. The protests that are occurring across the U.S. are not only a way to express the pain and frustration that has built up over many years and generations, but also bring awareness to injustice and inequality that have resulted in the death of too many unarmed African Americans as the result of police brutality.
These actions are not over one painful incident and a 3-month shutdown. The pain is much deeper and points to systemic racism and white privilege that we have failed to address. There is much that needs to be done. We will be challenged to move past pain and frustration while still using these feelings to hold us accountable to move change forward.
In the nonprofit community, we cannot pat ourselves on the back because of the services we provide as we have not done enough. At United Way of San Diego County, we accept the challenge and recommit to Live United with communities of color and people of color.
We will continue to focus our efforts on creating a more just society by providing opportunities for learning and achieving educational success of children and career readiness of young adults. We will strengthen our support of families experiencing economic and social challenges so that they may thrive. We will call out systemic racism and inequities that cause our children to fail, and listen to community voices to address their needs and the needs of their families. We cannot do this alone so we will also continue to bring partner organizations and people with diverse voices and lived experiences together to attain our common goal of education and learning success from cradle to career.
San Diegans Desperately Need COVID-19 Relief: How UWSD Is Helping
The Toll Coronavirus is Taking On Our Community
The current Coronavirus crisis can be very stressful for people. We’ve suddenly changed our way of life to prevent the spread of what can be a deadly virus. Around the world and in our own community, daily life has drastically changed. People are experiencing fear of getting sick. Fear for their loved ones, especially vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and immunocompromised. People are stocking up on food and supplies, such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Stores that are open are struggling to keep shelves full. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now. For the most vulnerable in our community, there’s also fear of losing basic necessities such as food and shelter because of lost income.
Not Everyone Can Work from Home or Stop Working
For many, the Coronavirus means working from home. Others aren’t so lucky, as their jobs don’t translate to remote work. Consider the people who work in the industries currently shutdown by California’s shelter-in-place order. If you take tickets at the movie theater, you can’t do that from home. If you work at a theme park, you can’t do that from home. Even if you work in a restaurant that’s staying open, your tips may have dried up seemingly overnight. For many people in our community, tips are integral to their economic security.
Some people are working jobs on the frontlines of the crisis, whether in healthcare or at a grocery store, convenience store, or other necessary business. But they too, can be unlucky. If an individual or a loved one is sick, they may need to take unpaid time off work.
The problem isn’t just translating jobs to remote work. It’s lost work.
Already, 1 in 5 US workers has experienced layoffs or reduced hours
UWSD always has a pulse of what’s going on in our community, and now is no different. We are directly witnessing the strain Coronavirus is causing people who are economically vulnerable – people living paycheck to paycheck.This aligns with what we are seeing across the United States:
18%, or 1 in 5 US workers, has experienced layoffs or reduced hours (LA Times, Survey released by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist)
The number is higher – 25% – for individuals making less than $50,000 a year
During our 100-year history, we have always been here for those who need additional support, and the current health crisis of Coronavirus is no different.
As part of the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, United Way of San Diego County is hosting a Worker Assistance Initiative (WAI) – specifically designed to support individuals in need. The Initiative provides flexible resources to individuals impacted by layoffs and reduced working hours implemented by employers in response to crisis situations and emergencies.
UWSD directly pays landlords, mortgage companies, and utility providers
Currently, the need is outpacing supply
We are getting flooded with applicants looking for relief. Hundreds of San Diegans applied on the first day alone and the number of applicants is now over 3,000, with more than $4,277,430 in support requested. What we are hearing is that people in our community are experiencing a sudden and severe impact on their income that will affect their ability to cover basic necessities for their families. This includes:
Getting sick with no paid leave
Losing the job of the family’s only breadwinner
Needing to stay home, without PTO or sick time, to protect a family member with cancer who is immunocompromised
People who are experiencing this kind of financial burden come from all kinds of jobs, including restaurants, real estate, hair stylists, health care, drivers for rideshare companies, transportation, events, hospitality, hotels tourism, education, childcare, fitness studios/gyms, bookkeeping, pet care, retail, construction, landscaping, beauty, personal care, massage, and more.
Why Is United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) Uniquely Positioned to Deliver on This?
UWSD is uniquely positioned to process and deploy capital quickly and efficiently to individuals, as we currently administer SDG&E’s Neighbor to Neighbor Fund. The WAI is designed to complement the work of public health officials and to ensure funding for the basic needs of utility bills and rent/mortgage payments to prevent the need to enter the social services system of care and prevent homelessness.
This type of collaboration between community partners, including nonprofits, businesses, and social service organizations, is what UWSD does year-round. We are experts in identifying where the greatest need is, aligning partners, and leveraging resources. We hope you will join us.
What Can You Do?
Take action! There are many ways to help, including: