With federal leadership sitting on longterm solutions for the pandemic and a new aid package, there is at least some good news on the local level. Santa Cruz Community Ventures, a nonprofit that helps create equitable local economies on the Central Coast, announced that they have distributed $1.7 million in aid for undocumented people through their collaborative project UnodcuFund Monterey Bay since April.
In a July 29 statement, SCCV Executive Director Maria T. Cadenas states UndocFund—which partners with various local organizations like Catholic Charities and United Way Santa Cruz County—has aided over 1,300 households. Of those households, 70 percent work in agriculture and 60 percent are families with children.
Unlike recently unemployed workers who are legally authorized to work, undocumented residents may have been paying into economic and social safety nets (using an individual taxpayer identification number), but they have not been part of recent federal or state stimulus packages. They also do not qualify for benefits like unemployment.
The UndocuFund money doesn't provide solutions for everything the economic downturn has caused, Cadenas acknowledges, but it is more than what undocumented workers were getting before. "While our contribution is not enough to address the need in our communities, we are honored that we could do this much," she said.
SCCV noted that the Monterey Bay area has the highest concentration of undocumented people in California (tying with Santa Barbara) at an estimated 12.5 percent of the population. The statement also cites findings from UC Merced researchers showing undocumented Californians are among the hardest hit by the pandemic when it comes to job loss and recovery.
“We’re grateful for our donors and philanthropic partners,” Cadenas said. “The need is great, which is why we also ask our legislators to find a way to provide an income replacement safety net programs for all workers."