GAGE PARK — A neighborhood group is helping struggling undocumented families on the Southwest Sides during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gage Park Latinx Council is accepting applications from undocumented families throughout the Southwest Side to help with rent, groceries, utility payments, car payments and other needs.
The group wants to assist the immigrant community, which was hard hit by the stay at home order but may not be eligible for unemployment benefits, the group director Antonio Santos said.
Families living in Archer Heights, Back of the Yards, Gage Park, Little Village, Pilsen are being prioritized for the fund.
Since last week, the group has raised more than $16,200. They plan to distribute the funds on a one-time basis to families unable to access city, state and federal programs offering relief to the general public amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Santos said the group stepped up to raise funds because public officials were not taking “enough measures to help the undocumented community out in an impactful way.”
Organizers acknowledge they are unable to meet all needs, but hope to “alleviate some of your economic stress during this time of uncertainty,” according to the application form.
The group has talked to undocumented workers in the service industry who have already lost their jobs because of the dine-in ban, but they aren’t able to apply for unemployment or other federal and state programs, Santos said.
While $1,200 federal checks will be dolled out to many Americans and unemployment will be expanded to ease financial fears for the general public, undocumented workers who also pay taxes are excluded from receiving on such benefit or relief, Santos said.
So working class families on the Southwest Side are donating what they can to help those in greater need and “balance the injustice,” Santos said.
“Many times undocumented workers are among the first to be let go because they are often seen as expendable in our society…There are also many who are self-employed including street vendors, mechanics, that no longer have people purchasing their goods and services,” Santos said.
The application is open from April 2 to April 9; undocumented families can apply here.
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