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Marin nonprofits seek equitable pandemic recovery

March 28, 2022

Canal Alliance volunteer Aurelia Vargas hands out free COVID home tests outside the San Rafael nonprofit on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

by Adrian Rodriguez

With societal inequities coming into sharper focus during the pandemic, vulnerable residents in Marin should be at the center of a countywide COVID-19 recovery strategy, a new report says.

The report, titled “Equitable Pandemic Recovery Strategies for Marin County,” calls on officials, nonprofits and others to unite in supporting a framework that puts Marin’s very low-income residents, immigrants and communities of color first.

The report, published this month, outlines policy changes and investments to bolster objectives in four categories, including family well-being, economic security, housing stability and data access.

“If there wasn’t a wake-up call before the pandemic, there is now,” said Chandra Alexandre, chief executive officer of Community Action Marin. Alexandre is among the authors of the report, along with leaders of Canal Alliance, Legal Aid of Marin and North Marin Community Services.

Soon after the onset of the pandemic, the organizations formed the Canal Policy Working Group to address challenges as they arose. Through that process they were able to develop the framework for the recommendations, said Omar Carrera, chief executive officer of Canal Alliance.

The report focuses on the communities in need, including the Canal area in San Rafael, Marin City, western Marin and parts of Novato.

“There was an invisible tsunami behind the pandemic that no one was talking about,” Carrera said. “It was affecting all of us, but low-income workers, people of color were seeing that impact disproportionately.”

Immediately, residents needed masks, testing, and vaccines when they became available. But they also needed internet access and computer equipment for their students, and child care so the parents could continue to work. The list of needs kept growing, Carrera said.

According to the report, together the organizations have helped secure over $4 million in emergency rental assistance for more than 3,365 Marin families and another $3.8 million for cash assistance for 7,560 families. Additionally, more than 31,000 residents were provided with free counseling related to legal issues from March 2020 to September 2021.

Click here to read the full story on the MarinIJ

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