NEW ORLEANS – On Tuesday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced the Immigrant Community Assistance Program, which will provide $750,000 in immediate financial relief for New Orleans’ immigrant workers, who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have seen that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a particularly dire impact on our most vulnerable communities, with our immigrant community disproportionately affected. We have worked diligently with public and private partners throughout this crisis in order to marshal the resources needed to provide financial support to those who need it the most. This is another example of our commitment to support all of the workers who are the backbone of our city’s economy,” said Mayor Cantrell.
The goal is to support as many as 500 families with direct financial assistance. Many families have been out of work for months and have accrued a three-month backlog of debt. As a result, the program will provide $1,000 payments to families, as well as small stipends for community-based organizations that help to administer the funds.
The program, managed by the Mayor’s Fund, Forward Together New Orleans, in coordination with the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families, is made possible with a donation from the Open Society Foundations (OSF). After Hurricane Katrina, the City of New Orleans welcomed approximately 20,000 new residents from a variety of Latin American countries, most notably Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Approximately 21 percent of those new residents lived below the poverty line before COVID-19, and the pandemic reduced the ability of those in construction, hospitality and domestic labor fields to earn an income.
Despite bearing the brunt of the pandemic, these communities have been excluded from federal government relief. The initiative will provide direct cash payments to the city’s most vulnerable populations.
The money is part of a $130 million global initiative by OSF to combat the effects of COVID-19 in vulnerable communities around the world.
“The City of New Orleans holds a special place in my heart. No matter the trials this city has been through, from Hurricane Katrina, to the BP oil spill, its citizens are always ready to fight back with an unquenchable sense of optimism and resilience. Open Society Foundations has a long history in this city, supporting social justice through art, working to reform the criminal justice system, and supporting independent journalism,” said Patrick Gaspard, President, Open Society Foundations.
“Today, in the fight against COVID-19, Open Society welcomes the chance to support New Orleans’ immigrant workers, who came to the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to help rebuild, and who have been hit hard by the COVID pandemic. We commend Mayor Cantrell for her steadfast support for these workers. We recognize that this funding is only the tip of the iceberg and we will continue to advocate for federal and state funding for workers in times of crisis.”
The Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families has an established working group of non-profit, community-based organizations and other stakeholders with deep roots in the city’s immigrant community. In partnership with these groups and like-minded funders, the Immigrant Community Assistance Program hopes to create the infrastructure to offer short term relief to individuals overlooked for assistance from the federal and state governments.