On Thursday, March 26, the Joint Center convened several leading organizations that serve Black communities for an online policy discussion with CBC Chair Karen Bass (D-CA) on the implications of congressional responses to COVID-19 on Black communities.
We discussed: 1) where the COVID-19 stimulus bills have likely succeeded and fallen short with regard to Black workers, families, and communities; and 2) particular challenges Black communities face that may be overlooked by others.
Several issues were discussed, including:
- Housing and food insecurity; suspension of work requirements, time limits, asset limits, and recertification requirements within TANF and SNAP programs; boosting TANF cash benefits; and access to individual payments to those without direct deposit accounts with the IRS;
- Ensuring benefits and support for nonemployee subcontractors (e.g., those who work for barbershops, beauty salons, etc.);
- Preventing employers from retaliating against Black workers who insist on safe working conditions in a COVID-19 world;
- Addressing the lack of access to broadband in many Black households; equality in education for Black children as school districts move toward distance learning and mechanisms to hold localities accountable; broadband resources for doctors and telehealth; access of Black adults to virtual skills development and education resources;
- Fairness in COVID-19 testing, healthcare, and Medicaid state waivers;
- Protecting imprisoned citizens, those with disabilities, and those living with HIV;
- Access to federal stimulus resources for cities and towns with less than 500,000 residents; and ensuring that federal money allocated to states is distributed fairly by those states to localities;
- The fragility of Black-led nonprofit organizations that provide services in Black communities; expedited processing for funding for nonprofits; ensuring Black non-profits are included in key decisionmaking conversations about policies regarding non-profits; support for Black churches; and addressing potential land loss by Black churches arising from COVID-produced delays in mortgage payments;
- Ensuring the Small Business Administration extends more loans to Black businesses; the sustainability of child care businesses and workers; access to capital to small businesses and asset managers; additional support for Black-owned banks;
- Additional resources for states to guarantee citizens the right to vote in 2020; the implications for Black communities of vote-by-mail;
- Preventing disinformation campaigns about COVID-19 targeted at Black communities; and
- The challenge of state and federal governments waiving affirmative action requirements in government contracting.
Participants included representatives from the Advancement Project, Advancing Black Pathways, A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities (ABFE), African American Mayors Association, Annie E. Casey Foundation, California Wellness Foundation, the Center for American Progress, the Black Economic Alliance, the Black Futures Lab, Black Voters Matter, the Boule, Brookings, the Center for American Progress, Color of Change, Delta Sigma Theta, the East Bay Community Foundation, the Leadership Conference, Living Cities, Lumina Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, NAACP, NAACP LDF, National Action Network, the National League of Cities, the National Organization of Black County Officials, the National Urban League, Open Society, Repairers of the Breach, Skillman Foundation, the Southern Education Foundation, the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative, Urban Institute, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and more.