Roots Community Health has an unwavering commitment to its mission of "Uplifting those impacted by systemic inequities and poverty ..." Roots Rapid Relief Fund began as one of the many pillars in our strategy to respond to the emerging and urgent needs to address the devastating impacts of the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic on our already resource-limited East Oakland Community.
The pandemic has had severe impacts on our low-income community including loss of jobs (many in the service sector), hospitalization and even death of the primary income provider wih famiies facing the threat of hunger and homelesness. As COVID continues to spread at a higher rate than other areas of Oakland and Alameda County, the demand for assisstance provided by this funding mechanism has continued to increase, especially in light of other factors such as inflation, the lifting of eviction mortorium and the increasing pressures on our safety net and social support systems.
Along with contributions from GlobalGiving, Roots has been able to elicit support from local donors and funders to provide essential support to those in need and has created the "Roots Community Fund". For the period between July through November, 2021 the fund disrtributed close to $260,000. These funds focused on four primary areas providing housing stability and preventing the potential of slipping into homelessness. These areas are:
The need continues to grow, with the winter months upon us, and the end of the California eviction mortorium by the end of December, Roots Community Health Center is striving to continue this funding source, and look forwad to stronger support from our GlobalGiving donores in the months to come.
While families were faced with growing economic concerns, job insecurities, and fear of exposure to COVID-19, Roots Community Health was on the cutting edge of implementing services designed to respond to the community’s needs. Roots is deeply concerned the number of homeless community members will spike after the federal government ends its hold on evictions and unpaid rent. To empower individuals and family members facing financial hardship, Roots established the “Rapid Relief Fund” to help defray the cost of rent, utilities, and groceries. The pandemic’s economic fallout has had a devastating and disproportionate impact on the rights of low-income people who were already struggling. The pandemic has exacerbated disparities within the ranks of food/nutrition, health care, and the accessibility of affordable housing; it has left large populations of community members without the resources needed to meet basic needs.
Roots patient population is 83% African-American and 10% Latino living in marginalized communities. Since the start of the pandemic, many were affected by the loss of employment in industries paying below-average wages. Many of those who lost jobs and income have run out of money. According to a national study, 24 million adults reported experiencing hunger, and more than six million said they fear being evicted or foreclosed on in the next two months due to their inability to make housing payments. The Household Pulse data indicate millions are not caught up on their rent or mortgage payments, with responses being the highest among African-Americans and Latinos. This is attributed to long-standing inequities often stemming from structural racism in education, employment, and housing.
Given the unprecedented needs of East Oakland residents living in low-income communities of color, Roots continues to refine and expand its whole health model. This approach integrates primary care with wrap-around services, patient empowerment, self-advocacy, and community participation. Thank you in advance; your ongoing support will directly benefit those facing hardships caused by COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immense effect on the extreme poor while disproportionately harming our community's most vulnerable members. As the stay-at-home orders are lifted and social distancing measures remain in effect, let us remember not to socially distance ourselves from those adversely impacted by the devastating effects from Covid-19. As an immediate response to this global pandemic, Roots Emergency Relief funds are being used to provide immediate and much-needed support to individuals and families feeling its acute impacts, including food insecurity, loss of income, housing, utility assistance, and health care to name a few. Roots rapid relief funds are designed to be flexible in focus as community members' needs change over time.
As good stewards, Roots prioritizes these funds as they are distributed among its community members living in East Oakland, an area of Alameda County that has experienced the largest number of its members impacted by the Covid-19. Throughout this unprecedented time, our generous network of donors has chosen to stick by our side. On behalf of our board, staff, and program participants, I would like to thank you for your commitment. It has meant so much to us all.
Thank you for your patience as we pivoted to find steady ground while we navigated the uncharted territory caused by this pandemic, and in many ways, we are still doing so. Our commitment to you is that we will continue to explore innovative ways to meet the needs of community members who are in crisis and those directly impacted by Covid-19 while remaining steadfast to our mission and core values-no matter what.
Roots Community Health Center has been operating on the frontline addressing the devestating impact of COVID-19 on our East oakland community. In May, we opened the first walk-up COVID-19 testing site and we have been busily helping those that have tested positive to ensure that they and their families are informed of the steps they must take for their safety as well as their immediate families and friends. We have also been working with the Alameda county conducting contact tracing. Additionally, Roots has been providing weekly Health Briefing to disseminate the lastest information regarding the pandemic, what they can do to stay safe as well as resources that are available to them. While Covid-19 is a global pandemic, its impact on the vulnerbale, low-income population of East Oakland has been particular severe. Recent data indicates that the East Oakland infection rate is about three times that of Alameda County.
Many of the families we serve has experienced loss of jobs or income impacting their ability to meet their daily needs. With school closure, many has been unable to work due to the lack of childcare. And this pandemic highlighted on of the major impacts of health and income disparities, and the urgent need of creating such Rapid Relief Fund to lend a helping hand to this in need at these difficult times.
While GlobalGiving donations for this fund has been limited, Roots was able to acquire resources (~50K) from local organizations that enabled us to assist several families. Since May 2020 we' provided assistance to dozens of households with their utility bills: electricity, water, internet, phone, etc. as well supporting some of their educational needs, such as tablets, books, etc. Naturally, the needs are great and far exceedes our available resources.
We have also recieved $20k that has been set aside to help youth; to assist with cell phone bills, internet access, food and transportation gift cards, and to provide emergency housing; 3 nights at a safe location/hotel. Though these amounts seem small, they make a huge difference to the population we serve and provide support to help them navigate throught these difficult times. We have recieved affirmation of how important these small funds have helped , "these funds are going to help me because I don’t have enough funds to pay certain bills. Getting these funds would be so helpful for me and my son. Due to covid 19 and no childcare I have not been able to work which has caused me to fall behind on my bills". a second stated "This fund has helped me a lot it gave me less stress on paying some of my bills" another example. "the funds provided room in budget to make payments towards past due debts that are in collections" another "The fund has helped me, by supplying support with my financial obligations. In doing so, it has helped my family maintain a stable living during this pandemic time."
One bit of great news that I would like to share: In September, Roots Community Health Center is proud to have been selected as a 2020 California Nonprofit of the Year by By Senator Nancy Skinner.
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