Tag Archive for: covid-19

kids on bus
kids on bus

Opening Safely Should be a Top Priority


by Karen Frederick and Meghan Adams Siembor

LOWELL SUN 9/28/2020 B: Focus     Page B01 1/2

While public school educators and school systems are still debating how to safely return ( or not) to classrooms, early education programs were allowed to open in July, and if subsidized by the commonwealth were required to open by the end of July to be eligible for continued payment to care for and educate the state’s most at risk, low income children. This allows working parents who have no option of remote work to continue to provide for their families and support our
local economy. On July 8, Community Teamwork opened our doors and safely phased in up to 50% of our previous
enrollment by the end of July. This past Friday we were informed by the Department of Early Education and
Care that we could increase our classroom group size to 100% capacity, from 10 to 20 children. We have
seen no data or public health information which supports this increase.

With the benefit of only one month of reopening data, flu season on the way, and a projected spike sometime
in the fall of Covid-19 virus cases, we feel this is premature and dangerous to our staff, children and their
families — especially as schools are determining in some cities that even 25% of enrollment is not safe.
Looking at this new directive with a racial equity lens is even more disturbing. Our staff represent our
population. There are a majority of people of color who are already hit harder by this virus, as are our students
and their families. The commonwealth and the federal govern

Julia Malakie / LOWELL SUN

We were informed by the Department of Early
Education and Care that we could increase our
classroom group size to 100% capacity, from 10 to
20 children.
We have seen no data or public health information
which supports this increase.

ment that subsidize our programs for low income and at-risk children and families have a responsibility to
ensure the safety and sustainability of our programs. Without our high-quality early education and care
programs, the achievement gap will grow even higher. Parents, businesses, and our economy need us. We
have long talked about the important role of early education and child care in children’s academic
success, and we have long recognized the role child Just last week mobile, rapid Covid testing was made
available to public schools ( not yet open.) We applaud this initiative but ask why this has not been made
available to our programs, which have been open since July.

Across the sate, some early education programs are waiting up to 10 days for test results and several days
to even get appointments for testing. It is crucial that mobile rapid testing for staff, children and their
families be made available to programs already operating and serving infants through school age
children in the commonwealth. Opening safely should be a top priority Early Education Centers

9/28/2020 B: Focus
care plays in the economy. Parents cannot work without safe, affordable, high quality programs. Many
workers and single parents working in nursing homes, hospitals, supermarkets, restaurants shelter,
group homes, and child care centers are low wage workers who depend on state and federally funded
subsidized programs to care for and educate their children.

The subsidized system of the state’s Department of Early Education and Care was fragile prior to Covid,
with state rates as much as 30% lower than private rates. Across the state, our programs are currently
looking at when to close down classrooms, lay off staff, and even close entire centers.
Stable, adequate funding must be made available so that our programs are still here when it is safe to reopen
to capacity. This is a critical time which will determine the future of our field and parents’ access to affordable,
quality education and care for their infants through school age children. Improving educational outcomes for children and
achieving racial equity in our communities starts with quality early education. And supporting families working hard at essential jobs to provide food, housing and opportunity to their families is essential to our economy.

We call on the commonwealth and federal government to adequately and stably fund Early Education
Programs and to provide essential resources such as testing to ensure their future existence and to ensure
our economy can fully recover. Karen Frederick, CEO, and Meghan Adams Siembor, Division Director, Child
and Family Services at Community Teamwork

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GLCF MinutemanARC w x
GLCF MinutemanARC w x

Greater Lowell Community Foundation awards additional response grants for rent relief

The grants were part of the seventh and final round of distributions from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist area nonprofits serving vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Volunteers provide fresh food delivery for adults with disabilities at Minute Man Arc, a recent grant recipient from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund through GLCF.

LOWELL – The Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) announced that it awarded $290,000 from its GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to nonprofit organizations, this includes targeted funding to provide rent relief to families and individuals that face a loss of housing due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. The grants were part of the seventh and final round of distributions from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist area nonprofits serving vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are so grateful to the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund for supporting our neighbors in Greater Lowell who are unhoused or at risk of becoming homeless,” said GLCF President & CEO Jay Linnehan. “These grants boost the efforts of our tremendous nonprofit partners who have continued to go above and beyond during the pandemic to support those who need it most.”

“As of June, Massachusetts and Greater Lowell had the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 17.5%, with the city of Lowell exceeding that rate at 20.5%. Coupled with the July 31st expiration of the Federal Unemployment supplement payments, we at Community Teamwork fully expect to see a secondary increase in demand for assistance from families who are trying stay safe and to remain in current housing,” said Karen Frederick, CEO of Community Teamwork. “We are so grateful for this Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund grant opportunity through GLCF, which allows us to help families so tragically impacted by job loss and housing insecurity as a result of this pandemic.”

The following 10 nonprofits receiving grants in the latest round of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund are:

  • Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell, Inc. – to provide emergency rental and food assistance
  • Clear Path for Veterans New England, Inc. – to purchase and provide food and groceries for veterans and their families unable or without means to access food due to COVID-19
  • Coalition for a Better Acre, Inc. – to provide financial support to low-income residents impacted by COVID-19 for rental payments for low-income housing
  • Community Teamwork Inc. – to provide financial support to low-income residents for housing
  • Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. – to prevent food insecurity among seniors
  • International Institute of New England (IINE) – Lowell – to provide emergency rental assistance
  • Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) – to provide rental assistance in cases of urgent need
  • Minute Man Arc for Human Services Inc.- to purchase and provide food and groceries for home-bound people with physical and mental disabilities
  • Minuteman Senior Services – to prevent food insecurity among seniors
  • Paul’s Soup Kitchen, Inc. – to purchase food to produce meals for the homeless

The Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund supports those across the state most impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis, focusing on essential frontline workers and vulnerable populations including the homeless, immigrant populations, people with disabilities and those facing food insecurity. The Fund works in concert with regional community foundations and non-profit leaders who partner with local leaders to understand the response and relief landscape, strategically filling in where gaps are pronounced. For more information, visit MACovid19ReliefFund.org

“The Mass COVID Relief Fund grant opportunity through GLCF was instrumental in enabling Minute Man Arc to purchase and store food supplies for our eight group homes,” said Jean A. Goldsberry, CEO of Minute Man Arc. “Emergency funding like this is supporting the needs of people with disabilities in eastern MA and keeping our most vulnerable citizens safe and healthy.”

To date, GLCF has awarded nearly $2.5 million through 172 rapid response grants to nonprofits battling COVID-19 and the resulting fallout from the virus through the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.

Donations to the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund can be made online at www.glcfoundation.org or by mail to the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund c/o GLCF, 100 Merrimack Street, Suite 202, Lowell, MA 01852.

International Institute of New England (IINE) staff with “back to school” donations. IINE received multiple grants from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund through GLCF to support refugees during the pandemic.




Helping Clients at Home Lowell Sun REV
Helping Clients at Home Lowell Sun REV

Community Teamwork, Inc. HELPING CLIENTS AT HOME

Published in the Lowell Sun, Thursday, April 23, 2020

Virus housing crisis brewing

Lowell Sun Wednesday, 1 April 2020

By Elizabeth Dobbins

edobbins@ lowellsun. com

As the coronavirus pandemic impacts the paychecks of many in the Greater Lowell area — and rent and mortgage payments come due — officials are asking how to keep people housed.

“ Making rent in the coming months is going to be a big concern,” said Lowell City Councilor John Drinkwater.

Last week, Drinkwater made a motion asking the City Council to support a Statehouse bill placing a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the current emergency. Councilors unanimously voted in favor.

“ I think it’s a good motion and a very timely motion,” said Councilor William Samaras.

The bill proposed by state Rep. Mike Connolly, D- Cambridge, and state Rep. Kevin Honan, DBrighton, was referred to a committee on housing on Monday. The bill accompanies a mid-March court order, which suspended most eviction proceedings in the state until April 21.

“ In many ways it’s the same proposal,” said Democratic state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D- Acton, who is supportive of the bill. “ It was filed before the courts took action.”

Mike Weinhold is the supervisory attorney for Northeast Legal Aid, a nonprofit that represents low- income clients in Lowell and other areas. He said even with the new court order, navigating the eviction process still poses challenges for tenants, who very rarely have legal representation.

For example, he said the courts are notifying tenants of eviction proceedings and, in initial communications, provide court dates that do not reflect the stay on evictions, resulting in inaccurate dates.

“ They’re going to think they’re going to have to go to court in the middle of the outbreak,” he said.

With the courts almost entirely closed to in- person proceedings, he said it’s harder for people to connect with legal aid. Usually “ lawyers for the day” are set up at a table in the court to offer services to those who qualify.

Eldridge said the legislation also addresses the issue of foreclosures, providing some relief for people who own their own properties, including landlords who may not be collecting as much rent to pay mortgages.

“ Certainly we need to take action there,” he said.

Not all are fans of the proposal. On March 19, Executive Director of MassLandlords. net Doug Quattrochi wrote a 10- point rebuttal. He argued against the stringency of the penalties landlords could face and instead called for an extension of the court order if necessary and establishment of an emergency basic income.

President of the Greater Lowell Landlord Association Dick MacDonald said last week that he isn’t sure what actions are needed.

Many people, including landlords with other jobs, are out of work, he said. The federal Department of Labor reported 147,995 nonseasonally adjusted advance unemployment claims in Massachusetts for the week ending on March 21, a nearly 20 fold increase over the previous week.

“ It would be helpful if tenants were able to get some funds to help pay their rent,” MacDonald said.

He said the situation will be challenging for both landlords and tenants.

“ What would be helpful is if this thing would be over with,” he said.

Eldridge said he is sympathetic to the challenges facing smaller property owners, but larger property owners likely have the capital to forgo full collection of rent. Financial assistance to residents from the state or federal government could help, he said.

Lowell Mayor John Leahy, who supported Drinkwater’s motion, said banks could alleviate some of the strain if mortgage holders were able to extend their mortgage and delay payments in the wake of the crisis.

Still, eventually, everyone needs to pay their mortgage or rent, he said.

“ Fair is fair,” Leahy said. “ Everybody has to take a little bit of responsibility on this.”

Drinkwater said he believes the eviction issue isn’t just about housing, but also supporting small businesses, many of which owe rent during this period even as revenues plummet.

The pandemic also raises challenges for homeless shelters where people are often living in close quarters, he said. The city can work with institutions to provide types of housing that limit the spread of COVID-19 better than the traditional shelter, like dorms, according to Drinkwater.

Organizers at Lowell nonprofit Community Teamwork Inc. — which provides a variety of services from meals to fuel and rental assistance — said they are already seeing the impact of this crisis on people contacting their office.

“ The impact is really profound for so many of our clients who are facing job loss and all those other impacts that we all know about,” said Connie Martin, division director of energy and community resources.

Martin said the agency has seen an uptick of people who need food and housing support. Last week, CTI received $ 1 million in additional funding from the state to provide short- term financial assistance for people at risk of becoming homeless.

“I think that’s going to be what allows us to keep people housed once the courts open ( and owe) that back rent,” Martin said. “ Landlords are going to look to being made whole.”

Though the CTI offices are closed, staff members are still available by email or phone, including at 978- 654- 5607 and C o v i d R e s p o n s e C T I @ c o m mteam. org, according to CTI Director of Development and Marketing Kathleen Plath.

“ We’re not going to capture every need, but we want people to know we are open,” Plath said. “ We’re open for business and we’re basically taking care of our client’s needs in a different format.”

Plath is also the owner of two restaurants: Cobblestones in Lowell and Moonstones in Chelmsford. When dine- in services around the state closed, she said she had to lay off over 75 employees.

“A lot of them we are sending them to resources like Community Teamwork,” she said. “ We set up our own emergency fund with what we had and what we’re able to provide just to help them out. And the first two people who asked us to help was to help with rent.”

As a business owner, she believes local government could help ease the burden on businesses through tax abatements. Like tenants who have lost their jobs, the business will not make up this lost revenue even after they reopen for dining- in, she said.

“As we know it’s a chain,” Plath said. “ It’s a cascading effect. It’s going to hurt everyone.”