East Boston Ecumenical Community Council Lobbies for More Funding to Bridge the Inequality Gap Caused by COVID in Eastie

Two weeks ago at a press conference Mayor Martin Walsh announced that the Greater Boston Latino Network (GBLN) would receive grant money from the Boston Resiliency Fund to begin addressing the inequities exposed by COVID-19.

At the press conference Walsh said Latinos account for 20 percent of Boston’s population, but they account for 28 percent of the City’s overall COVID-19 cases and that this inequality has grown further over the course of the pandemic.

As a member of the GBLN the East Boston Ecumenical Community Council (EBECC) will receive funds to help support the Latino community here because of the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on the population.

In total, the city will be investing more than $400,000 in a community plan that plans to focus on resource disparity identified by the Mayor’s COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force.

However, EBECC Executive Director Frank Ramirez said it is not enough and others need to step up and help solve problems COVID created for the Latino community that the Resiliency Fund can’t address.

“For EBECC and other organizations in East Boston, dealing with the impact of Covid-19 will remain a challenge,” said Ramirez. “Among Hispanics, income loss, business impacts, health concerns, and basic consumer needs are the most cited impacts of COVID-19. Concretely, the impact in Eastie’s Latinos includes loss of jobs and self-employment, leading to the inability to service debt and pay bills.”

Ramirez added, “But this grant will not be enough, in my judgement, if it is not accompanied by other coordinated efforts from other sectors of society including neighborhood improvement and community safety initiatives, youth education and services, unemployment support, housing improvement, service coordination for residents in crisis, as well as housing-based services that focus on nutrition, physical activity, financial literacy and capabilities, social activities, mental health and employment.”

However, Ramirez did applaud the $275,000 in grant money that will provide direct support services to the Latino community. The money will also go towards hiring bilingual Youth Outreach Workers. The Youth Outreach Workers will be hired directly from Eastie and work collaboratively with health care providers from East Boston Neighborhood Health Center.

‘The Youth Outreach Workers will provide linguistically and culturally competent support to the Latino community,” he said. “These outreach workers will help elevate care for mental and physical health, fill any gap in resources created by language or cultural barriers, and connect families to food, housing vouchers and direct financial help. GBLN will create and launch a bilingual marketing campaign that will engage youth, alongside artists, educators, musicians and other influencers who will help us spread public health messages, to wear masks and provide masks to their peers.”

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