When the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law in March of 2020, it was impossible at that time to foresee the devastating, long-term effects the COVID-19 pandemic would have. Some Rhode Islanders lost their jobs or saw a drastic reduction in hours; schools and daycare centers closed sending parents scrambling to find alternate childcare or arranging to work from home. Many residents who fit into the income range specified in the bill received the first round of stimulus money from the federal government to help them meet any economic shortfalls the loss of work or reduction of income had caused.
There was no provision in the CARES Act to provide stimulus funds to undocumented Americans, who are already marginalized by their citizenship status and are disproportionally at-risk of contracting the virus due to the types of front-line or under-the-table jobs which are available to them. An estimated 14,000 to 17,000 undocumented Rhode Islanders do not qualify for any stimulus funds. In order to provide a much-needed lifeline to this vulnerable population, the Governor’s office announced the launch of the WeR1 Relief Fund in order to address the gap in aid by giving direct cash assistance. The fund was donor driven and provided gift cards in the amount of $400 to one adult member of each qualified households. The fund guidelines specifically provide this funding would go to those unable to participate in government-funded programs such as WIC, SNAP, or TANF because of their immigration status.
Due to our reputation in Providence County for giving aid to those most in need, CAPP is a recognized leader in supporting undocumented Providence County residents. Undocumented families are known to be self-isolated and difficult to reach due to a fear of exposure, legal repercussions and possible detention and deportation. CAPP is known for being a trustworthy organization which puts the needs of residents above all else; undocumented individuals know that if they come to us, they will receive any help we can provide. Through our efforts, 249 families were able to benefit from the WeR1 fund through the funds raised by private donors. Recognizing the extreme need, CAPP provided an additional $20,000 in aide towards the effort. CAPP was able to provide an additional $100 of critically needed support to the first 200 of those families we served.
Again, in December of 2020, many Americans received a second stimulus check under the federal CARES Act. But once again, undocumented Rhode Islanders were left out due to their status. CAPP was able to secure additional funding to serve 95 undocumented or blended status families. We were able to provide $200 in basic need gift cards to each of those families, bringing CAPP’s commitment to serving Providence’s undocumented and blended status community to just under $40,000 as of December 2020. CAPP joined with other nonprofits across the state to serve 5764 undocumented or blended families in benefitting from the WeR1 Rhode Island relief fund. These critical support are still needed. CAPP is proud to join the list of those supporting all Rhode Islands in their times of need.
More information to come about how CAPP is helping undocumented families stay warm this winter.