In an immigrant community battling coronavirus, ‘essential’ means ‘vulnerable’
Gladys Vega, a longtime activist and executive director of the Chelsea Collaborative, a nonprofit, began to see in March how even minor disruptions in the economy would dramatically destabilize the community, especially among day laborers whose hours were suddenly being cut. Food scarcity was already a problem in Chelsea, but the coronavirus sparked a wave of hunger.
Thanks are due to heroes helping communities weather COVID-19 storm
Heroes get the job done — We are nation of immigrants. Yet too often our immigrant populations are being left by the wayside in this battle. Thank you to state Rep. Jon Santiago, an emergency room doctor at Boston Medical Center helping to save lives, and to Gladys Vega, executive director of the Chelsea Collaborative, and the many immigrants working in our grocery stores, performing maintenance duties, on cleaning crews and other too-often unappreciated jobs throughout the state. You are indeed first responders.
With landlords threatening eviction and food running short, a line formed in Chelsea
Stephany Escobar recalled dividing up what little food her family of 10 could afford last month in Chelsea: First the children were fed, then the two men who still had jobs, she said. Those who weren’t working — four had lost their jobs due to the virus — split whatever was left.
Vega, the executive director of a social-justice organization called the Chelsea Collaborative, believes that these measures have made it more difficult for immigrants to get the care and support they need to stop the spread of COVID-19. Out of fear of triggering the new public-charge rule, immigrants in Chelsea have been disenrolling from public services, worsening the overcrowding, food insecurity, and poor access to health care that make the area so vulnerable to the coronavirus.
In this segment for Latino USA, Maria Hinojosa sits down with Boston-based reporter, founder of Latino Rebels and co-host of the In The Thick podcast Julio Ricardo Varela to talk about the factors that caused this crisis in a city of just 40,000 residents, why it was overlooked, and the way healthcare providers have adapted their work in response.
Saving Chelsea: A hotbed of coronavirus has become a hotbed of giving, too
The tragedy in Chelsea has mobilized donors large and small, Vega said. A produce collaborative has contributed food. A group of women in Cambridge have made regular deliveries of diapers and baby formula. Local bodegas that may not survive the lockdown are donating to the food supply.
NATIONAL: Nearly Two-Thirds of Latinos Have Lost Jobs or Face Economic Hardship Due to Coronavirus Outbreak, Poll Finds
More than 65 percent of Hispanics have lost their jobs or suffered a significant reduction in their incomes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic—a "devastating" loss that will be difficult to recoup, experts said.
It’s not uncommon for multiple families to share the same apartment, with up to 16 people living in one two-bedroom apartment, according to Dinanyili Paulino, chief operating officer of Chelsea Collaborative, a community service group run entirely by Latinx women. “There’s a lot of sub-leasing in Chelsea and landlords who take advantage of low-income workers,” she added.