This pandemic has hit Little Village hard. Our neighborhood has some of the highest rates of COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths in the state. Many have also lost their employment creating financial instability and uncertainty.
Enlace established the Little Village Emergency Assistance Fund at the beginning of the pandemic in order to be able to put money directly in the hands of community members. We partnered with Second Federal Savings to distribute checks so community members would have a safe option accessing funds via their drive-thru or walk-in facility. Second Federal Savings has a history of making banking accessible to immigrants, regardless of immigration status, so they were a natural fit to help us distribute funds to families left out of the first federal stimulus and impacted by COVID-19. We are very appreciative of this partnership! Together, we were able to provide emergency funds to nearly 800 households in 2020.
In addition, we also established a Pandemic Response Team to support community members by increasing access to reliable information related to COVID-19, connect them to resources and support them in accessing emergency financial assistance. With access to comprehensive support, community members are able to increase their ability to maintain a stable household and navigate the very difficult situation that the pandemic has created. Such as Laura, a single mother of a 5-year and 12-year old. She lost her job as a result of the pandemic and was struggling to pay her rent and utility bills. The team helped her fill out the form to receive emergency funds and connected her to resources, such as food pantries in the community. These funds helped her cover part of the cost of her rent.
Like Laura, many community members are struggling to cover the cost of living. This fund alone is not a solution to the inequities families are facing and may only provide temporary relief. Many families owe months of back-rent and utilities. We are committed to continue fundraising for the fund and advocating for relief for families in Little Village. We hope to continue assisting and working directly with families in 2021 to overcome the long-lasting effects of this pandemic.