Park City Community Foundation provides money for undocumented women hit hard by the pandemic
One-time payments are being distributed
While the coronavirus pandemic has impacted many families in Park City and Summit County through reduced work hours or full loss of employment, none have been affected more than undocumented women, says Diego Zegarra, Park City Community Foundation community impact director.
Although these immigrants have helped support the economy, they have not been eligible for federal- or state-level unemployment benefits or government-supported stimulus checks, despite paying taxes, Zegarra said.
Statewide studies indicate between 800 to 1,000 undocumented immigrants reside in Summit County, he said.
To help these community members, the Park City Community Foundation created Direct Aid for Families, a program that will support those who have been most impacted by the pandemic with a one-time $1,000 payment.
“It’s an equity-based program that supports undocumented immigrants, and it’s not addressing any systems of injustice that have left them in a vulnerable position, but it might be the difference between making rent comfortably, paying a past medical bill or paying for car repairs, without incurring further debt,” Zegarra said.
The foundation decided to focus on undocumented women because they were the ones who experienced the highest level of unemployment during the past year, according to Zegarra.
“We’ve learned though this whole pandemic that Latinas were the hardest hit at 20% last April,” he said. “In some cases that translated in wiping out entire savings accounts to stay in their homes.”
While the program will help those women, it also sends a message of belonging, Zegarra said.
“It tells them that they are seen, and it hopefully will provide a respite from the economic onslaught that the pandemic did to them,” he said.
The payments, which will total $250,000 from the Foundation’s Community Response Fund, will be distributed to those who qualify, Zegarra said.
“We have invited outreach coordinators, social workers and counselors in our community, here in Summit County, to help us identify eligible candidates based on the fact they hold close relationships with many of these community members,” he said. “The vetting is minimal, because we go off the recommendation of the counselors and social workers who have helped these people for years.”
Jewish Family Service administers the final vetting and distributions of the checks, Zegarra said.
“They are the ones who ask the questions of whether or not the candidates have received a stimulus check, did or didn’t qualify for unemployment benefits, if they live in Summit County and experienced a loss of income,” he said. “If those check out, then a check is sent to those individuals within the next few weeks.”
Ellen Silver, Jewish Family Service executive director, is grateful to partner with Park City Community Foundation on the program.
“For those who are most in need, this direct assistance will help them in a meaningful way and ease the financial burden many have experienced during this incredibly challenging year,” she said in a statement.
Direct Aid for Families has been in the works for the past few months, Zegarra said.
“We looked at other programs nationwide and in Salt Lake, and I have to give credit to Voices for Utah Children and the state of Utah who worked on a similar program that ended up supporting more than 1,000 immigrants so far,” he said.
Zegarra is grateful for community members who have donated to the Community Response Fund, which made this program possible.
Since March of 2020, the Community Response Fund launched in response to the COVID-19 crisis has raised over $3.8 million in donations.
Most of that money has now been granted to dozens of nonprofit organizations that have helped the people significantly impacted by COVID-19 with urgent needs such as housing, food and health care, he said.
“This warms my heart that this is happening with full board and staff support,” Zegarra said. “The dignity of choice will be present when recipients are spending these monies, and hopefully supply a degree of relief, no matter how small, to our fellow community members that often go unseen. And I think it helps us make visible struggles that aren’t necessarily on the mainstream.”
For information, visit parkcitycf.org.
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