Applicants' biggest priorities amid job losses are housing and food.
Legislature must approve food/housing security bills, wage replacement.

Los Angeles -- One of the largest data sets of immigrants excluded from federal relief reveals the challenges they face because of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. At the top of the list: housing and food security.

From May to July, twelve California community organizations distributed one-time Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI) state funds to 155,000 applicants. The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), helped 38,500 of them, and it also gleaned information about their priorities.

Among the highlights:

  • Seven of every ten applicants fall between ages 35-54, and of those, almost 98 percent reported reduced hours or lost jobs
  • 55 percent of applicants said they would use the DRAI aid to purchase food
  • Nine of every ten applicants said their most pressing need is housing, and they would use all or part of the aid to pay the rent or mortgage
  • Food scarcity is the second most pressing issue after housing among applicants

Please attribute the following to Angelica Salas, CHIRLA executive director:

"We are humbled to have been part of what Gov. Newsom indicated was the first successful program to help immigrants affected by COVID-19 and excluded from federal relief because of their immigration status.

"And yet this data set sheds light on the acute challenges immigrants confront right now. Immigrant families face job and income loss, eviction, and hunger.

"We are only days from the end of the session for the California Legislature. We urge them to approve AB 1436 (Chiu) for immigrant housing security and AB 826 (Santiago) for immigrant food security. We also need a wage replacement program for immigrants. We urge lawmakers to use the projected $4.3 billion windfall from April-July income, sales and corporate tax collections to fund this immediate relief for our communities."