A plan to help the community’s most vulnerable
Posted on April 7, 2020 by Sonoma Valley Sun
A community bailout plan to protect the most vulnerable working class and homeless of Sonoma County was rolled out in a virtual meeting Monday.
North Bay Jobs with Justice and the North Bay Organizing Project presented SoCo United in Crisis to an audience including Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane and representatives of Congressman Jared Huffman, State Senator Bill Dodd, and State Assemblymember Marc Levine.
The plan is centered on the belief that all people have a right to be safe, protected, housed and have basic needs met.
Addressed was the point that the lowest paid and least-covered workers are now among the most essential, as they hold jobs such as food and critical services delivery. These workers are also the most likely to catch the coronavirus. They are also most likely to lack health care, and to be undocumented. When these workers are laid off, they lose health insurance and have no accrued benefits even if they have paid into the system.
If the economy desires and depends on undocumented workers, and they are not eligible for federal aid, SoCo United in Crisis contends that it is morally incumbent on the county to care for and protect these critical people in a time of great need.
In Sonoma Valley, the bulk of undocumented and disadvantaged communities are in the Springs urban service area.
Additionally, the plan asks the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Offfice and the Board of Supervisors to join in affirming the county stance to support SB-54, and that for the duration of the crisis the Sheriff will cease all communication with ICE. Fear of ICE prevents people from seeking health care, and lack of comprehensive community health care is a public health issue for everybody, said Mara Ventura Executive Director of North Bay Jobs with Justice.
The SoCo in Crisis plan is designed to be doable and fundable by the county government, said Ventura. Workers and the homeless will need more than charity, she said. As county and city budgets evolve to respond to the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the allocation of funds is a matter of choice and of priorities.
SoCo in Crisis asks local government to prioritize and fund the following points:
We have the right for our basic needs to be met
- The County provides funds for undocumented workers whose work was impacted by COVID19.
- The Right to Language Justice: all alerts must be multilingual, in both English and Spanish as well as other languages spoken in the county – including indigenous languages such as Mixteco, Triqui, Chatino. Information must be proactively shared with the unhoused community.
- Ensure employers do not lay off workers until all means of securing needed funds have been exhausted. Should workers be laid off, ensure employers offer jobs back to those workers in order of seniority when re-hiring.
- Assure accessible health care for those experiencing actual or possible COVID-19 symptoms and allow laid-off workers to keep their healthcare. Since many companies are receiving emergency taxpayer money, we should ensure all medical costs incurred by “essential” workers who have no access to health insurance be covered by the Employer. This includes farmworkers, domestic workers or undocumented workers.
We have the right to home
- By August 1st the Board of Supervisors will comply with state law SB54 to participate in and fund a countywide town hall meeting on issues impacting the immigrant community, including a TRUTH Act report from Sheriff Essick. To ensure language and cultural competency, this will be planned and facilitated by community organizations.
- A moratorium on all evictions, rent increases, and foreclosures that is extended to at least 6 months after the end of the COVID-19 outbreak. No rent debt accumulated and any tenant relocations will be temporary.
- Secure and allocate relief funding and rental and mortgage assistance for all who will be impacted economically by this virus.
- Provide emergency shelter, food and sanitation stations to our homeless population, Cease displacement of homeless encampments. Ensure quarantine options are made available.
We have the right to be safe and protected
- The Board of Supervisors mandate the Sheriff to stop all communication with ICE.
- Assurance from the County of Sonoma that the County Courthouse will abide by the new 2020 state law related to access to ICE agents. Courthouse personnel will receive the relevant training.
- Enact mandatory Paid Sick Leave for all employees. Waive the 90-day requirement to receive paid sick time. Notice regarding current State paid sick leave requirements will be given to all employees in their preferred language.
- Frontline “essential workers,” healthcare workers and domestic workers must be provided adequate safety protection including but not limited to N95 masks, gloves, face shields, and gowns. Requesting or using adequate safety protection is not grounds for retaliation. Every attempt should be made to ensure tests are provided when needed.
- Advocate for the release of all COVID-19 vulnerable persons from ICE detention centers in California.