SLO County UndocuSupport raises over $435,000 to benefit local immigrants
–SLO County UndocuSupport recently announced that it has raised $85,000 from local donations and more than $350,000 from local and statewide organizations, but they say that the need is bigger.
SLO County UndocuSupport is a collaboration of local organizations, community leaders, and advocates who came together at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic with a common goal: to provide financial support for local immigrant families, including undocumented and mixed-status immigrant families who were left out of federal pandemic relief programs.
It is estimated that 9,000 undocumented residents live and work in San Luis Obispo County who have been left out of federal relief programs. Had they been included it would have injected over $12 million into the local economy. Funds to SLO County UndocuSupport have been received from a range of individuals, community organizations, local agencies, and foundations. These donations include over $85,000 from hundreds of local individual donations ranging from $20 to $5,000. Other donations include a recent $5,000 donation from the Rotary de Tolosa, $10,450 from the SLO County Board of Supervisors and $3,000 from CenCal Health, among other local donors.
The SLO County UndocuSupport team applied for grants up and down the state and were able to receive $83,000 from The California Endowment in partnership with the Ventura County Community Foundation, $35,000 from The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County, and $220,000 from the California Immigrant Resilience Fund. Significant grants from UndocuSupport to local organizations serving immigrant families will be announced in early April.
In 2020, SLO County UndocuSupport distributed funds to over 600 local families totaling more than 2,000 persons in 17 communities throughout SLO County for rental assistance and utility payments, transportation, groceries, and health needs. Still, undocumented neighbors remain underserved when it comes to relief aid, according to the organization.
Lisa Fraser, executive director of the Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) said that “Even under the best of situations, it is complex to help the most vulnerable among us. CFS is committed to the SLO County UndocuSupport mission so undocumented families and their children thrive during this unprecedented time of enforced social isolation and separation from supportive family members.”
The Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (CAPSLO), has been San Luis Obispo County’s federally-designated community action agency since 1965. Their chief executive officer, Biz Steinberg, said, “Undocumented workers have been hit hard by COVID-19 and often they do essential work in our communities.” Steinberg, who has been part of SLO County UndocuSupport since its inception noted that “CAPSLO has been honored to be a part of a collaboration of local organizations, community leaders, and concerned individuals who have come together to help the undocumented and mixed-status immigrant families.”
Speaking about SLO County UndocuSupport, SLO County Supervisor Bruce Gibson says; “I’m so grateful to those who organized UndocuSupport and to those who have contributed to it. These funds provide crucial assistance to especially vulnerable families and children in a time of great hardship. I’m proud to see our community’s strong support for our undocumented residents.”
Stories from neighbors in need
Juan has been living in the country for 38 years. His wife contracted COVID-19 and developed pneumonia along with other severe symptoms and was hospitalized. He was unable to work for a month due to quarantine guidelines and became the primary caregiver for his wife and three school-aged children. SLO County UndocuSupport funds helped with rent and purchase of nutritious food.
Rosa, a single mother with two children, had been working two jobs prior to the pandemic, six hours at each job, to make ends meet. She lost one job because the restaurant closed due to COVID-19. She is still working at a vineyard but is not earning enough to pay all the family’s bills. SLO County UndocuSupport funds allowed her to pay her car payments to avoid losing her means of transportation.
Maricruz has been living in the country for three years. She currently rents a room in Paso Robles with her two young children. Her husband was deported when she was three months pregnant. She worked as a dishwasher, but lost her job due to COVID-19. She had a C-section and experienced complications. She was recently cleared to go back to work but has not been able to find a job due to not having childcare. She receives counseling for postpartum depression and the stress of raising her two kids on her own. She is struggling financially due to being unemployed for over six months. She rents a room but has not been able to make her rent payments and currently owes $1600. If she receives the funds, she will use the money toward overdue rent payments.