I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to work from home during the COVID pandemic. While I may experience the occasional spurt of stir-craziness, and miss seeing family and friends, I am able to take many of the steps necessary to avoid exposure to this life-threatening illness.
This is not the case for many segments of society. It is therefore of little surprise that the COVID pandemic is reinforcing many existing economic disparities and racial inequities within our communities. Front line workers who are unable to telework including grocery store clerks, bus drivers and sanitation workers continue to contract this deadly virus at high rates. Individuals who live pay-check to pay-check, remain unable to stock up on multiple days, let alone weeks of food to avoid “unnecessary” trips to the grocery store. People who lack stable housing, live doubled up or in congregate care settings, remain at greater risk of contracting the virus.
These realities mean there is no shortage of advocacy work and LMM’s Advocacy Department has remained busy these past two months. LMM remains hyper-focused on ensuring the needs of our program participants are being met, whether they reside at our youth shelter, Men’s Shelter at 2100, a nursing home, or the Northeast Reintegration Center. This has included advocating for eviction moratoriums, increased federal funding for housing and shelter, Medicaid waivers, additional SNAP benefits and for the development of a clear plan to protect individuals who are currently incarcerated.
As the state looks towards reopening, LMM will continue to work with partners to meet the short-term needs of those most vulnerable, while also working to identify long-term, and sustainable policy solutions that get at the underlying inequities that have brought many to a point where they must choose between groceries and rent. In doing so, we can take the difficult but critical strides necessary to rebuild while creating a more inclusive and equitable society.
Written by: Margie Glick, Director of Advocacy