Asian Community Emergency Relief Fund
UPDATE - PLEASE READ
March 19, 2021: Thank you for your generous support! Donations made through March 22nd, will be distributed in April. Donations received after March 22nd will be collectively decided by the partner organizations on how to best directly support the community.
If you are looking for additional ways to support the community, please consider making a direct contribution to the partner organizations listed under "Taking Action" below. As the pandemic continues to impact vulnerable communities, these agencies continue to provide vital programs and services.
While countless communities are severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian American community in Greater Boston is being hit harder than most. Many are immigrants who work in food, hospitality, home care, and child care sectors that have been closed. Consequently, these workers have lost their incomes. Because of language barriers and immigration status, not everyone can access public benefits like unemployment and the new stimulus dollars. These families are in jeopardy of not having enough money to buy basic necessities and pay for housing. To make matters worse, our community is also facing rising anti-Asian sentiments.
Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), in partnership with Chinese Progressive Association, Vietnamese American Initiative for Development, Asian American Resource Workshop, Greater Boston Legal Services’ Asian Outreach Unit, and Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, launched the Asian Community Emergency Relief Fund for our community. The fund provides immediate and direct financial support to people in our community who have lost work and are having trouble meeting their basic needs, and may not be eligible for other public benefits.
In 2020, we raised and distributed over $350,000 and helped 327 families, totaling 946 individuals. Our applicants were predominately Chinese, Vietnamese, and Khmer immigrants from Boston, Quincy, Malden, Lowell and Randolph. Of the individuals funded, the majority of languages spoken included Cantonese, Mandarin, Khmer, and Vietnamese, and a smaller percentage included Thai, Nepalese, Bengali, Laotian and Urdu.
55.5% of the fund went to families with undocumented members, and the remaining fund helped families that were ineligible for other public benefits because of their immigrant status, because they had been paid in cash, or because they had been self-employed.
OUR 2020 FINDINGS
The First Touch Point
For many applicants, the Fund intake phone call was the first time they learned about resources they were eligible for. Most required language assistance to apply for benefits they previously had not known about and were referred to partner organizations for help.
More Hate Incidents
A number of applicants reported being verbally or physically assaulted, from being spit on at a grocery store, attacked on public transit, to violently intimidated at work.
Immigrants who have been in the US for less than five years are ineligible for most public benefits. Some applicants immigrated as recently as Jan 2020. There is also fear that becoming a “public charge” will prevent them from gaining citizenship or petitioning for family members.
Not Enough Money
Many households live intergenerationally or have college-aged students who recently moved back. While applicants expressed gratitude for the aid, we know these gift cards are insufficient to meet the mounting back rent and basic expenses due to continued unemployment. Each partner organization continues to deliver much-needed programming and services to its respective constituents to achieve long-term stability after the pandemic. In the meantime, distributing these emergency funds can help relieve immediate financial pressure on families struggling to pay for essential expenses such as housing, food and bills.
Language Access and Data Equity
Increase in language access across all Massachusetts' programs from unemployment, to compulsive gambling support to vaccination programs for non-English speakers by providing online and print resources, benefit applications forms, and translation/interpretation services in Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer, and other languages.
We are advocating for data collection and reporting to be disaggregated for the various AAPI ethnicities and more reflective of the nuanced and diverse needs of the AAPI community.
Equitable COVID Recovery
Prioritize the recovery of small businesses, especially ones owned by entrepreneurs from immigrant and BIPOC communities. Ensure that recovery resources are accessible to all constituents in need of support through increased language access and targeting neighborhoods and communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Enforce Worker Protections
Many low-wage workers are pressured by employers to return to work. We urge Governor Baker to design enforceable workplace health & safety standards. People should not have to choose between the family they love and the job they need.