“Sonoma County United in Crisis” Forms in Response to Pandemic – Community Groups Call for a “Real Community Bailout”


Mara Ventura(707) 293-2863mara@northbayjwj.com
Leticia Romero(707) 529-0973leticia@northbayop.org

Santa Rosa, CA – March 31, 2020: Just as our fires brought to the surface the vast inequalities in Sonoma County, so too has the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than corporate bailouts and commitments to simply not evict families “for now,” we need a real community bailout, according to a newly formed advocacy group, “Sonoma County United in Crisis.” They point out that one in five Sonoma County residents are living in poverty1 and hundreds of thousands are now out of work. Members of our community need to know they will not lose work permanently, only to come out of this pandemic owing thousands of dollars to landlords and banks. 

Leaders and members of ten community organizations have formed this working coalition to proactively advocate for policies and financial support that will ensure residents and their needs are not forgotten. Armed with the first-hand knowledge that these organizations bring, they have formulated an agenda addressing the basic rights and needs of the most vulnerable in our community.

“The stakes are the highest they’ve ever been,” says Mara Ventura, a founding member of the group. “We may be in this pandemic for months. We call on our local governments to step up to their responsibilities of caring for the whole community and prioritize these policies.”

Among the policies the group is calling for: funds to support undocumented workers whose work was impacted by the virus; worker protections that ensure layoffs are a last resort and allowing laid off workers to keep their healthcare; mandatory paid sick leave; moratorium on all evictions, rent increases and foreclosures; demands for safety protection for frontline essential and healthcare workers; and other policy provisions.

“This is a call to action,” says Susan Shaw, also a founding member. “Our communities know what we need to survive. We need bold action that values people more than profit for our families, tenants, seniors, immigrants, workers and our unhoused community as they struggle to survive this pandemic and build a just future together.”

The groups that make up Sonoma County United in Crisis are: North Bay Jobs with Justice, North Bay Organizing Project, North Bay Labor Council, National Union of Healthcare Workers, Graton Day Labor Center, Alianza de Mujeres Activas y Solidarias, Sonoma County Tenants Union, Service Employees International Union Local 1021, Comité VIDA and Sunrise Movement. 
To see the full policy proposal, visit the website at: www.SoCoUnitedinCrisis.org

1 The State of Working Sonoma: A Profile of Income & Racial Inequality, Poverty, and Low-Wage Employment (Fall 2018)


Recording of the press conference:

Sonoma County United in Crisis Press Conference – English
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