Marin Independent Journal article by: Vicki Larson
Last week I spent an hour talking to some county thought leaders about what might be ahead as Marin starts to recover from the pandemic — Gabriella Calicchio, director of Marin’s cultural services, Omar Carrera, chief executive officer of Canal Alliance, and Mike Blakeley, head of the Marin Economic Forum, as part of the Commonwealth Club’s Marin Conversations series.
Here’s one thing that became apparent to me — Marin cannot fully recover, or really even start to recover, if it doesn’t address its long-standing inequities and start looking after its essential workers, many of whom are Latino and live in the Canal.
Marin’s Latino population has never truly thrived in a county of such abundance, but the pandemic has not only exacerbated the inequities, it also has devastated the community. Nearly 80% of Marin’s COVID-19 cases are Latino although Latinos only make up 16% of our population. That’s because they are overwhelmingly essential workers working at minimum wage, which makes affording decent housing in Marin nearly impossible. Plus, many lost their jobs and, despite Marin’s newly extended eviction ban, may soon lose their housing as well.
While the county’s Marin Recovers details how and when businesses can reopen, it isn’t focused enough on the workforce, Carrera believes, and with no workers, there’s no business and with no business, there’s no recovery.
“We were paying attention to businesses so they have the health protocols in place, that they understand social distancing, that they have information on educating the customers, but we didn’t care about that worker who goes back to the neighborhood. That worker is also a consumer,” he says.
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