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.
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