February 22, 2021 – WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) Called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Will include strong funding for programs vital to communities across California to ensure no one is left behind in the next COVID-19 relief program. In a letter to congressional leaders, Padilla described the funding needed for additional federal immunization centers, improved broadband access, housing, public health, public transport and food aid services, healthcare. health services extended to indigenous communities, PPP loans for non-profit organizations. , and called for direct payments for mixed-status families.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities across the United States over the past year, and California is no exception. As you finalize the next COVID relief program, I urge you to ensure that no community, family and worker are left behind ”, Senator Padilla wrote.

Padilla’s letter comes as Senate and House negotiate emergency COVID relief legislation, and the United States surpasses 490,000 COVID-19 deaths, including nearly 48,000 Californians – the highest death toll in the country.

A copy of the letter can be found HERE and lower.

Dear Schumer Leader and Pelosi Speaker:

As the Senate and House finalize emergency COVID relief legislation to support American families, workers and communities, I urge you to ensure that no one is left behind by providing strong funding for programs following that are essential for workers, students and families in California:

  • Federal vaccination centers

I urge you to provide additional funding to the Disaster Relief Fund to ensure that FEMA can expand its collaboration with states to open additional federal immunization sites. California’s diversity makes adequate funding and placement of federal immunization sites essential for dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. California is working with the Biden administration to create large-scale vaccination sites, but it’s already clear that more will be needed. Both are home to some of California’s most diverse communities which are also some of the poorest. These sites are a start, but there is still a long way to go. California’s geographic size and complexity make large-scale supplemental vaccination sites crucial to vaccinating every Californian.

Record unemployment during the COVID-19 crisis has forced many families to stretch their wages to cover basic necessities, especially housing. Millions of Californians are struggling to pay their rent and meet their mortgages, and up to 40 million renters in the United States are at risk of losing their homes. With California rent prices among the highest in the country, rental assistance programs like Section 8 help keep Californians in their homes. I urge you to include additional funds for rental and mortgage assistance programs.

Increased support for public transit is needed for essential workers and crucial for communities across California. California’s public transportation systems are struggling due to reduced ridership, rising security costs associated with COVID, and a sharp drop in tax revenues on public transportation. Additionally, the majority of essential California workers are disproportionately Latino or Black residents and rely on public transportation. I urge you to include at least $ 30 billion to support struggling transit systems nationwide.

  • Make mixed families eligible for direct payments

In the United States, nearly 17 million people have at least one undocumented family member living in the same household, including 4.5 million in California. Almost 80% of migrants in California are relatives and many live in communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis. I urge you to ensure that mixed-status households remain eligible for direct payments and that other forms of state assistance have sufficient flexibility to allow states to support undocumented members of our communities.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, 2020 (PL 116-127) authorized states to provide food benefits through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance program to children who normally receive a free and discounted lunch at school. Known as Pandemic-EBT, this program offers additional EBT benefits to help families fill in gaps in meals that would normally be provided at school. More than half of California students get a free, discounted lunch, and this program offers an essential lifeline for families struggling to put food on the table. As California schools prioritize student and teacher safety, I urge you to include significant funding and continued state flexibility for the Pandemic-EBT program.

  • High speed internet access

With the need for remote work and schooling during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that all Americans have access to reliable high-speed internet. Unfortunately, many communities in California, especially communities of color, still struggle to access reliable broadband services. Almost half of low-income households with school-aged children reported no broadband subscriptions at home, citing cost as the main issue. Therefore, I urge you to include significant additional funding to expand broadband access.

  • Environmental justice grants

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides environmental justice grants to help communities in California address local public health issues. These grants allow community organizations to work with communities to develop and implement targeted solutions to environmental justice issues at the local level. Since the program began in 2000, Environmental Justice Grants have funded more than 60 programs across California. I urge you to include at least $ 50 million for environmental justice grants in this next package.

  • Health care for indigenous communities

The Indian Health Service (IHS) is a crucial source of health care for Indigenous communities across the country, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. American Indians and Alaskan natives are dying twice as fast as white Americans from COVID-19. California is home to 107 federally recognized tribes and the largest number of people of Aboriginal descent of any state. I urge you to include at least $ 8 billion for the Indian health service in order to maintain and expand access to health care for our indigenous communities.

  • PPP eligibility for non-profit organizations

The Paycheque Protection Program (PPP) provides forgivable loans to small businesses and nonprofits during the COVID-19 crisis. This money is used to help small businesses and nonprofits continue to provide paychecks to their workers. California is home to approximately 92,000 active nonprofit organizations that represent nearly one sixth of the state of California’s gross proceeds. Additionally, nonprofits provide essential services to historically underserved and underfunded communities. I urge you to ensure that eligibility for PPP loans is broadened to include the nonprofits that are the backbone of many of our communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities across the United States over the past year, and California is no exception. As you finalize the next COVID relief program, I urge you to ensure that no community, family and worker are left behind.

Source: Senator Alex Padilla

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