UPTOWN — The Uptown Church is pledging $10,000 to help immigrants pay their rent during the coronavirus pandemic— and it is asking the public’s help in raising extra money for the cause.
Uptown Church, 935 W. Wilson Ave., is launching the Immigrant and Refugee Rental Relief Fund, which will provide rental assistance to Uptown immigrants impacted by the coronavirus-caused economic recession.
The church will match donations to the fund up to $10,000 — and is hoping to have at least $20,000 secured for the aid program, Pastor Jeremy Falk said. A lottery system will award $500 grants to eligible applicants.
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As a 20-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Falk said he knows a lot of immigrants that have been greatly impacted by the pandemic.
“I have friends that are struggling,” Falk said. “We’re seeing the virus ravaging communities of color.”
Immigrants make up a sizable portion of the hospitality and service workforce, two industries that have been impacted the most by the virus and efforts to contain its spread. They also make up a sizable portion of the retail workforce, which has been thrust to the frontlines of the pandemic because those jobs have been deemed essential for local economies.
With the loss of jobs due to coronavirus, calls for rental assistance have grown louder. The city has launched a renter assistance program, and some city leaders have called for greater protections for unemployed renters. Threats of a rent strike have also popped up throughout the city.
“We know rent [help] is one of the bigger needs,” Falk said. “We’re getting no real relief from the banks. The stimulus checks, a lot of people didn’t even qualify for it.”
The grants will be available to immigrants, undocumented residents and refugees living in Uptown. Applicants must have experienced job loss or a decrease in wages due to COVID-19.
The Vietnamese Association of Illinois will administer the lottery system by which grant winners will be selected. Applications can be made by June 22 by calling the association at (312)-298-9703.
Uptown Church received a $10,000 grant from the Evangelical Covenant Church, of which it is a member, for COVID-19 related community assistance. It has used that money to help seniors get groceries, help the homeless receive medical supplies, provide face masks to those in need and help cover coronavirus medical bills, Falk said.
After receiving the grant, Falk said he wanted his congregation to further its work, and so it set up the rent relief fund with help from Ald. James Cappleman’s 46th Ward office. The church is using its own money to match the donations.
For more information on the rent relief fund, click here.
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