By Noha Aboelata, MD | Founder and Chief Executive Officer
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:
Rental Assistance to cover moving cost as well as eviction mitigation efforts. many of those supported reentry population;
Short-term housing suppport, mostly paying for transitional housing in local motels;
Providing assistance in paying utilities includinggas, electric, water, garrbage and phone billsfor over 20 families; and
Providing essential furniture and household item.
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.
By Roderick Stevenson | Director of Planning & Development
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.
By Roderick Stevenson | Director of Planning & Development
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.
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