March 16, 2020
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
S-230, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
House of Representatives
H-232, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Charles Schumer
S-221, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader U.S.
U.S. House of Representatives
H-204, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Re: Immediate Economic Relief for COVID-19 impacts
Dear Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy:
As the outbreak of COVID-19 escalates, Dream Corps urges Congress to protect the most vulnerable among us and to act in recognition that this pandemic is both a health and economic crisis — and one that will hurt some people more than others. Generations of inaction and discrimination, now built into our systems, mean that low-income communities and communities of color are sure to be hit first and worst. We urge you to ensure these communities are prioritized in any and all measures taken during this crisis.
Dream Corps supports the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” to provide free COVID-19 testing, paid sick leave, enhanced unemployment insurance, greater funding for food security programs and increasing Medicaid funding, and we urge the Senate to pass it as soon as possible.
In addition, as the economic security of more Americans becomes dire in the coming weeks, we urge you to incorporate the priorities identified below into any economic stimulus or relief package. No one should have to decide between increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19, and buying food or medicine for their families or facing eviction.
- Address housing instability and home safety. Issue a nationwide moratorium on all foreclosures on and evictions from properties owned or insured by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA), or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service (RHS). Provide federal funding to support states and cities that are issuing broad moratoriums on eviction, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs and are increasing emergency income assistance.
- Increase coverage of paid sick leave. Fund and close the sick leave coverage gap that remains even after the Families First Act and require all companies, including those larger than 500 employees to provide at least 2 weeks paid sick leave available immediately, regardless of accruals or company policy.
- Address the demands of frontline health workers. Provide free COVID-19 tests, free medical care for all COVID-19 patients, including for undocumented people, the homeless, and the incarcerated. Provide free COVID-19 vaccinations when the vaccine is available. Prioritize testing and access to care for people in nursing homes, assisted living centers, and rehabilitation and mental health facilities. Guarantee emergency pay for anyone who needs to quarantine due to suspected infection, and paid family and medical sick leave for up to three months. Stop immigration raids that discourage people from seeking testing and medical care. Escalate international cooperation to share effective strategies for care, including medical treatment. Work with other nations to rapidly develop a COVID-19 vaccine that can be shared globally.
- Preserve the right to vote. Require states and localities to create and publish contingency plans to operate elections during a time of large scale quarantine for poll workers and/or voters. Require states to offer registered voters the ability to vote by absentee ballot, offer voters the choice of receiving their blank absentee ballot electronically to print at home and return by postal mail, and allow ballots that have been postmarked by election day.
- Keep public transit running. Maintain essential mobility services, especially for medically and economically vulnerable populations and essential personnel like emergency workers. Ensure that transit agencies have the information and funding they need to follow sanitation and safety guidelines specified by health agencies. Make up for lost revenues from increased telecommuting and decreased travel.
- Provide dignity and safety for people who are incarcerated. Require and fund adequate planning for preparing jails and prisons for COVID-19 outbreaks and ensure that this especially-vulnerable population is equipped with adequate resources. In facilities where physical visitation is suspended, retain or enhance access to non-contact legal visitation and provide alternative methods for family visitation.
- Issue direct relief payments. In addition to tax credits to employers to pay for sick leave, provide direct payments to individuals whose employer is either exempted or not complying with paid sick leave requirements, and to small businesses unable to pay for paid leave for their employees and.
- Address the “Homework Gap”. Fund and establish a mobile hotspot grant program that would provide grants to eligible institutions to facilitate mobile hotspot programs that would provide a hotspot device (that is portable, does not contain a data limitation and complies with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998) to enrolled students, or the family or guardian of such enrolled students.
- Provide relief to communities of color and low-income communities. Ensure that any and all emergency COVID-19 relief — including medical aid, economic support, and business or policy changes — flow directly to and predominantly benefit vulnerable communities of color and low-income individuals.
No one individual, community, or country can deal with this crisis alone. We must work together, in our communities and across borders, with dignity and compassion. It’s up to all of us to come together. We ask that every member of Congress step up to meet this challenge and take immediate action to protect public health and fund key initiatives to enhance the economic resiliency of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.
CEO, Dream Corps