School support. Kids have lost almost a half year of in-school learning. How can we help kids learning English catch up?
At Chambers Elementary School in Kingston a dozen volunteers staffed an after-school project each week for children in Kingston’s English-Language Learning program. When schools closed, our project was interrupted too. Now the volunteers have turned the project’s books, games, and craft supplies into gift packages to distribute over the next few weeks to the children’s homes, to supplement their homebound learning. When(ever) school resumes, we expect to revive the after-school program as well.
Debt and income. Most immigrants live paycheck to paycheck and do not have access to social insurance that kicks in with unemployment. Can we help them dig out of the debts piling up after layoffs?
Rent and housing insecurity are a particular problem. Governor Cuomo has prohibited any evictions or penalties for late payments of rent until late August, but that only postpones an awful reckoning for families who lack income after losing employment, or who must return to unsafe working conditions while the health threat remains in place.
In some cases, absentee landlords are tempted to use this emergency to empty apartments and turn properties into profitable magnets for gentrification. In other cases, local landlords are themselves threatened by mortgage holders if they do not collect rents. These are not new problems in Ulster cities, but Covid-19 has intensified them. UIDN can barely dent the problems by renegotiating rents.