November 16, 2020
City of Santa Fe Launches Special CONNECT Fund to Help City Residents Impacted by COVID-19
Emergency cash assistance available for impacted workers whose workplaces were temporarily shut down and for residents at risk of eviction
In response to economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Santa Fe—with local partners Somos un Pueblo Unido, Chainbreaker Collective and national non-profit Family Independence Initiative (FII)—has launched emergency disaster relief funds open to eligible City of Santa Fe residents. These relief funds will afford one-time cash assistance to help supplement lost wages and prevent eviction.
The goal of the new City funds within the CONNECT program is to provide $2 million dollars to three specific groups of people hit hardest by the pandemic:
1) workers with children who did not receive a federal stimulus check or unemployment;
2) workers whose place of employment was shut down temporarily due to a COVID outbreak and did not receive sick pay or unemployment benefits during the shutdown and;
3) people at risk of eviction because they have been unable to pay rent due to the economic impacts of COVID.
The first two groups will receive a $750 one-time payment. Those facing eviction will receive a $3,000 one-time payment. The money will be distributed through FII’s UpTogether platform which can deposit the funds directly in people’s bank accounts or via a physical or digital prepaid card.
Santa Fe residents will be able to apply for funds starting today November 16. Referrals will be made via CONNECT to fund partners Somos un Pueblo Unido and Chainbreaker Collective, who will take the lead on providing community-wide education regarding the programs and assisting eligible individuals. Apply online at: https://www.santafenm.gov/connect or call Somos un Pueblo Unido at (844) 365-6635 or Chainbreaker at (505) 577-5481.
The City of Santa Fe, Somos, and Chainbreaker will host a bilingual Facebook Live forum today, Monday, November 16th at 5:30 pm with information on how to access these funds and other CONNECT resources. Residents can watch at www.facebook.com/SomosUnPueblo.
Mayor Alan Webber says, “The impact of COVID on our community goes beyond a health crisis. It also has hit our families in their pocketbooks. Using the CONNECT fund, we can get critical financial help to people in our community who need it the most. It’s money they can use to put food on the table, pay the rent, and take care of their families. Our aim is to help our residents make it through this pandemic and stay safe, healthy, housed and fed."
The State of New Mexico awarded a total of $17.5 million in federal CARES Act funding to the City and these relief funds are part of the City’s plan to assist residents impacted by the global pandemic. The City is allocating an overall amount of more than $4 million to support the Santa Fe CONNECT program which covers rent, shelter, food, utility bills, transportation and childcare costs. CONNECT is a partnership with Santa Fe County, which has also devoted substantial funding to the effort.
“So many New Mexicans fell through the cracks of COVID-19 economic relief and are still struggling through this pandemic. Ensuring all essential workers and families have access to relief programs is paramount to public health and an inclusive recovery,” said Marcela Díaz, Executive Director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. “The City is again being bold by supporting its citizens with cash assistance, and we hope it inspires other leaders in government to do the same for New Mexicans across the state.”
"Vulnerable tenants are often unable to access traditional rental assistance when payments go directly to landlords. By distributing funds directly to renters, the Eviction Prevention fund helps support the most vulnerable renters in Santa Fe,” said Tomás Rivera of Chainbreaker Collective, which established an Eviction Protection hotline in June. When eviction moratoria end, many renters will face months of back-rents and fines. “We have to get ahead of the looming eviction tsunami now. The Eviction Prevention Fund is forward-thinking and will be a critical first step to helping people remain in their homes during and after the pandemic.”
“We are proud to partner with the City of Santa Fe to invest in the hardworking people in their community whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by COVID-19,” said Jesús Gerena, CEO of FII, which has partnered with local governments in Austin, San Antonio, Chicago and other communities across the country on similar COVID-19 relief efforts. “We know each individual and family has unique needs during this time and direct cash investments give them the freedom and flexibility to support their family in whatever way will best help them through this crisis.”
Research shows cash transfers have a significant long-term impact on people’s
livelihoods and communities after an immediate crisis ends. Money injected into households can stimulate demand for goods and services in local economies, leading to quicker recovery overall. It also includes residents who are unable to tap into traditional rental assistance and other programs.
To donate to the fund, mail your check to: City of Santa Fe-CONNECT, PO Box 909, Santa Fe, NM 87504-0909.
Director of Community Services, City of Santa Fe
About Family Independence Initiative:
Family Independence Initiative trusts and invests directly in people living with low incomes so they can work individually and collectively to achieve prosperity. Through our technology platform, UpTogether, people experiencing poverty can build and strengthen their social networks and access unrestricted financial transfers so they can support each other in accomplishing their goals.
About Somos un Pueblo Unido
Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a statewide immigrant-based civil and workers rights organization with membership teams in eight counties and offices in Santa Fe, Hobbs & Roswell. Somos is also the co-convenor of a statewide Economic Relief Working Group to research, design and help implement COVID-19 relief programs that meet the needs of New Mexicans ineligible for traditional relief programs.
About Chainbreaker Collective
Chainbreaker is a member-led economic and environmental justice organization based in Santa Fe that has been organizing to protect renters who are at risk of evictions due to COVID-19 since the early stages of the pandemic. Chainbreaker is also working with the City and other community partners to develop a report that will provide data on the current eviction emergency and potential solutions to prevent a large-scale eviction crisis when eviction moratoriums end.
Started by Santa Fe County in 2017, CONNECT is a network of over 90 navigators at 42 clinics, community organizations, and city and county programs. The City and County fund Navigators are community health workers, volunteers, or social workers who link people to services and resources in our community so they can thrive. Agencies in the network are connected through a shared technology platform enabling navigators to send and receive secure electronic referrals, address residents’ social needs, and improve individual and community health. Non-medical needs such as secure housing, utilities, reliable transportation, nutritious food, and safe physical and social environments are key to health and well-being. CONNECT works with partners by breaking down communication and funding silos and fostering relationships between health and social service providers as well as those between residents seeking assistance and the navigators who guide them through the system. These relationships, which build on New Mexicans’ greatest assets, each other, are the essence of CONNECT.