LGBTQ centers across the U.S. are facing financial peril amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter dated Wednesday, April 15, more than 160 LGBTQ centers nationwide requested further COVID-19 relief funding from the federal government. The Trump administration recently approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a historic $2 trillion stimulus package, to mitigate economic fallout as the pandemic stretches on.
The CARES Act does include nonprofits in "several key relief programs," but the team at CenterLink, a network for queer community centers, says these groups are still suffering—and stresses that their community-based services are more vital now than ever.
The letter asks House of Representatives and Senate leaders to expand access to credit for nonprofits under the CARES Act or future COVID-19 relief packages. It requests $60 billion in emergency assistance loans for nonprofits like LGBTQ community centers, and asks that lawmakers prioritize nonprofits in future unemployment insurance relief programs.
"The reality is more assistance is needed for LGBT community centers," the letter reads in part. "They are providing critical services such as medical care, mental health counseling, virtual support groups, filling prescriptions, providing hot meals and check-in phone calls for older adults, serving as shelters for homeless youth, distributing nonperishable food items and hygiene products, case management, HIV testing, and hosting virtual engagement activities to decrease social isolation. Given the current financial crisis and loss of revenue, LGBT community centers could be forced to shrink their services, meaning tens of thousands could go without care."
In a media statement, CenterLink interim CEO Denise Spivak impressed the need for more funding so LGBTQ nonprofits nationwide can continue to serve "almost 40,000 people each week, or over 1.9 million people annually."
"Centers across the nation continue to offer food, medical care, housing, and other basic necessities during the COVID-19 pandemic," Spivak said. "At this moment, the need for services has never been greater."
The coronavirus pandemic is expected to take a disproportionately devastating physical and financial toll on marginalized groups like the LGBTQ community, a phenomenon NewNowNext has reported on at length. Back in March, advocates from more than 100 LGBTQ groups co-signed an open letter to health care officials and journalists warning of the unique vulnerabilities faced by queer people.
Read CenterLink's letter in full here.