As Coachella Valley continues to combat the rise in Covid-19 cases, local organizations are providing relief to farmworkers who have been facing economic hardship. NBC Palm Springs spoke to a farmworker receiving the aid, and to one of the local organizations who helped make this happen.
In the eastern part of the Coachella Valley, 50 percent of residents live below the poverty line. And after being deemed essential, farmworkers have been suffering, as more than 125,000 have been infected across the country.
“Farmworkers are acutely impacted in this time, both because of the health precarity of exposure, but also the economical precarity of many folks, having children at home, having children that aren’t able to be in school,” said Heather Vaikona, CEO of Lift to Rise.
Local organizations including, Lift to Rise, Todec, First 5 Riverside, and Vision y Compromiso have come together to provide $700,000 dollars in assistance to help farmworkers affected by Covid-19.
“What sort of lead to this chunk of funding, we call it making stone soup, just putting together the various things we have with partners to really just be a conduit of partnership to make things happen, it’s not really about the money, it’s about what’s the impact,” added Vaikona.
An impact the local agricultural workers are grateful for.
“The pandemic wasn’t something that anybody expected, it’s been really difficult for her because she is unable to sell her products that she usually sells. people aren’t opening their doors anymore,” explained Maria, a resident of Indio.
Maria says she will use funds mostly to help cover rent, she hopes for a long term solution in the near future.
“She acknowledges that although she was able to receive this funding, it also gives her the opportunity to see what is possible in the long term, for folks like her that will need more assistance,” explained Maria.
“The bottom line is that residents in the Coachella Valley are faced with two sides of a difficult equation, which is one, the incomes are too low, and two, the housing is too high, the cost of housing is too high,” said Vaikona.
Farmworkers who have been affected by Covid-19 can apply for this aid by going to Unitedlift.org, an organization that continues to help our essential workers like Maria.
“It’s very important to organize to the level that we organize as residents and be participating in the items that come to affect all the community,” added Maria.