Special to the Journal
With Revere experiencing a high rate of COVID-19 infections, community organizations Women Encouraging Empowerment Inc., Revere en Espanol, Concilio Latino, Revere Youth in Action, Revere Education Justice Alliance, Revere Teachers Association, and many Revere businesses, residents, and elected officials have signed onto a letter asking Gov. Baker to take more action in Gateway Cities like Revere which have been disportionately impacted.
“We are here to speak for the front line workers – the delivery people, the cashiers, the healthcare providers, the cleaners – all those who are especially exposed to both the health risks and the financial risks of COVID-19,” said Olga Tacure, Executive Director of Women Encouraging Empowerment, Inc. (WEE).
“During this time of crisis, WEE is committed to standing up for our most vulnerable residents, including immigrants, refugees, and low-income families. We can not sit back and watch our fellow community members in Revere go hungry and struggle to pay rent and bills without taking action.”
The letter notes that Revere, Chelsea, and other Gateway Cities have a disproportionate share of “essential workers,” low- and moderate-income individuals, and others who must continue to work. Many lower-income residents also face underlying health challenges, with Revere and Chelsea particularly impacted by poor air quality.
“Young people are stressed. We’re low wage essential or laid off workers, we’re trying to finish classes and help at home, all during a pandemic,” said Somaya Laroussi, 19, a lead organizer with Revere Youth in Action. “Why should our city have to suffer more than others? Your zip code should not determine your vulnerability. We need a commitment from the Governor now.”
The letter urges the state government to immediately take several steps to address COVID-19 in the hardest-hit communities, including:
-Sending in MEMA to oversee testing sites in Gateway Cities, provide more cleaning supplies and PPE to essential workers, and provide emergency non-perishable food items to Revere’s only food bank.
-Establishing hazard pay and expanded mandatory sick time for frontline workers, such as those who work in grocery stores
-Enacting legislation placing a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.
The executive team of El Concilio Latino de Revere added “el Concilio Latino stands in solidarity with essential workers in our communities many of whom are our members and live in Revere, Chelsea, and East Boston. We are witnessing unprecedented times and the burden of response again falls on already vulnerable, non-white, working class people. Front line workers like cleaning staff, restaurant workers, and healthcare professionals and paraprofessionals are in the eye of the storm, and while historically overlooked, deserve more than to fight this pandemic with concerns for their own health and or economic stability.”
“Teachers are doing all that they can to provide opportunities for learning at home, but there’s very little we can offer to provide the stability that will help students get through this crisis safely,” explained Erik Fearing, President of Revere Teachers Association, “the state has a moral obligation to find solutions for our most impacted cities.”
As of the time of this writing, over 475 residents signed on to the letter urging action.