Create Space-Save Lives rally in Olympia this weekend on behalf of keeping prisoners in Monroe and other state facilities safe from COVID-19 outbreaks. See the full video on Vimeo.
COVID-19 Relief Packages
As Congress begins work on a fourth COVID-19 relief package, we are pleased to hear that Democratic leaders are emphasizing anti-hunger priorities, including strengthening Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. With food insecurity currently doubling in Washington state, we know that SNAP is our nation’s best defense against hunger.
We share the following call to action from Food Research and Action Center (FRAC.org) to ensure these benefits appear in the next relief package:
- Keep the pressure going by contacting your Congress members and urging them to support Speaker Pelosi and Democratic Leader Schumer in increasing SNAP benefits by 15% in the next relief package. See their press release for more information.
- Thank your Representative if they signed the House letter calling on members of the House and Senate to increase SNAP and other anti-hunger efforts in the next package.
- Urge House members who did not sign the letter and all Senators to support SNAP and other anti-hunger efforts in future relief packages.
SNAP benefits must be strengthened in future COVID-19 relief packages in the following ways:
- Boosting SNAP maximum benefits by 15 percent;
- Increasing the minimum SNAP benefit from $16 to $30; and
- Suspending all SNAP administrative rules that would terminate or weaken benefits.
- Most importantly, these temporary provisions must continue until the economy improves.
Relief for Immigrants: Our friends at Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN) report that the application for undocumented workers in Washington who have lost their income due to COVID-19 is available. Please share with your networks the application link: bit.ly/undocurelief. Those needing help filling out the form can call WAISN at 1-844-724-3737. You can also donate to this fund at scholarshipjunkies.org/relief.
Columbia Legal Services also offering this link to resources that outline COVID-related benefits for undocumented people.
Social Distancing in Prisons and Detention Centers
On Monday, Governor Inslee announced his release plan to aid with social distancing in prisons. Last Friday’s state Supreme Court emergency ruling required the Department of Corrections to present a plan for ensuring social distancing practices in prisons by Monday. This was in response to the Columbia Legal Services’ emergency petition to the court after the Monroe prison COVID-19 outbreak last week.
The Governor’s plan includes releasing up to 1,000 people in prison who have low-level drug and alcohol-related offenses and who have a release date within 6-8 months. More details are forthcoming – see the Governor’s press release and columbialegal.org for more information. The oral argument hearing before the state Supreme Court for the lawsuit against the Governor and the Department of Corrections Secretary, filed by Columbia Legal Services on behalf of five incarcerated people with vulnerable medical conditions, will happen on April 23 and will be aired on TVW. Your advocacy and that of our partners helped bring about this vital change to ensure the safety and health of our neighbors in prison.
La Resistencia continues to call on Washington State and the city of Tacoma to release undocumented people detained at the Northwest Detention Center, reminding us that there is no way to ensure safe social distancing in prison conditions. Follow La Resistencia on Facebook or Twitter for daily updates, and take action now:
- Report the NW Detention center as a non-essential business that continues to operate and put people’s lives at risk. Urge WA state to release all inside, and demand that Public Health conducts visits to interview and release information on those detained and those on hunger strikes.
- Sign the Detention Watch Network #FreeThemAll Petition: sign.moveon.org/petitions/freethemall
Rep. Jayapal and Sen. Booker just released the Federal Immigrant Release for Safety and Security Together (FIRST) Act to move immigrants out of detention and stop immigration enforcement actions against individuals not deemed a public safety risk during health emergencies, including COVID-19. We will keep you updated on future advocacy efforts to support this bill as it progresses.
A member congregation of our Network of Advocating Faith Communities (NAFCs), Valley and Mountain, hosted their annual Table Turning event on Saturday and generated emails and tweets on behalf of people detained at the Northwest Detention Center. Thank you to all who continue to stand for justice in this critical time.
Join FAN for a Census Webinar
As the U.S. Census Bureau adjusts its timeline and field operations to our stay-at-home realities, there’s no better time than now to make sure our neighbors and faith community members are filling out their census!
Please join us for a webinar on Tuesday, April 21, at 3:00 PM that FAN is co-sponsoring with Census Bureau partners and Washington Nonprofits to get ideas and support for your census outreach. FAN’s Census Equity team has ideas for you to use when reaching out by phone or email to your community. Email email@example.com to RSVP, and we’ll send you the link.
It has never been easier for people to respond online, by phone, or mail. Households that have not responded will be getting paper questionnaires in the mail this week. It takes just 10 minutes and impacts the next 10 years of funding for our communities’ healthcare, schools, access to public transportation, and more. This is our one shot to shape the next 10 years!
Here’s another reminder to share in your digital communications:
COUNT FOR YOUR COMMUNITY’S HEALTH!
Emergency preparedness. A new health care center in your community. Affordable well-child visits and prenatal care. Identifying distribution points for supplies in a disaster. Care for diabetes or COVID-19. All of these are enabled by the US Census.
Washington State in 2016 received $8.5 billion in census-driven health care funding.
“Our ability to prevent people from getting sick, to prevent the transmission of communicable and infectious disease is very dependent on receiving funding that’s based on an accurate population count,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “An undercount not only means less money, it also means we don’t have the right denominators when we’re trying to establish rates around disease tracking, outbreaks and inequities in outcomes.” (The Nation’s Health, Feb/March 2020)
We all deserve good health care. Show your care for your neighbor by completing your Census 2020 questionnaire today! Get started online at 2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020 for English, 844-468-2020 for Spanish, or TDD other languages, or by mail.
We also have a reminder flyer we are printing for faith communities that may still be doing essential food distribution or other in-person services to households, like low-income or elderly persons. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like us to mail some flyers to you. Follow FAN on Facebook and Twitter for homegrown videos and real-time response data!
Events & Opportunities
In light of state and local recommendations for community health practices during the coronavirus outbreak, many groups have cancelled or postponed their upcoming events. Be sure to check event links ahead of time for updates and online opportunities.
Did you catch our list our legislative successes we celebrated in the 2020 session last week? See the full list on our website. Thank you for your tireless efforts for justice this year, and stay tuned for opportunities to advocate year-round as we seek a more equitable and sustainable state for all.