Latin Consortium for Action members

Julia Arata-Fratta, City of Fitchburg alder; Baltazar De Anda Santana, Latino Academy of Workforce Development executive director; Dr. Karen Menendez Coller, Centro Hispano of Dane County executive director discuss the Latin Consortium for Action fund during a Zoom meeting with the Star.

Latinx people make up around 7% of the state’s population, including a proportion of neighborhoods in the City of Fitchburg.

But that ethnic group also comprises 11% of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases and 12% of hospitalizations, according to the Latin Consortium for Action Emergency Relief Fund 2020 impact report.

There’s much work that needs to be done to fix those percentages, and solve overall issues the Latinx community has faced for decades, four of the many Latin Consortium for Action members told the Star. They include Julia Arata-Fratta, City of Fitchburg alder; Baltazar De Anda Santana, Latino Academy of Workforce Development executive director; Dr. Karen Menendez Coller, Centro Hispano of Dane County executive director and Dr. Armando Ibarra of Voces de le Frontera.

That begins with the LCA, which got its start in Dane County five years ago, Arata-Fratta -- one of the original founders -- said. The goal was to have Latinx-run nonprofits that already serve the ethnic group work as a collective.

In March 2020, the LCA launched its emergency relief fund to aid the Latinx community during the pandemic. The fund, the report states, amassed $1.18 million to help its large proportion of undocumented applicants with lost income, as well as costs related to housing, childcare, loans and food. That success resulted in the LCA reopening the fund for 2021, an email release states.

There’s a need for the fund, as the pandemic has disproportionately impacted Latinx people statewide and nationally, each LCA member said.

The ethnic group, according to the report, is more likely to be employed by an essential industry amid COVID-19 than to have a job that allows remote work. And it’s highly probable, the report states, Latinx people live in more multigenerational households that earn 46% less than non-Latinx people. Undocumented immigrants also don’t have access to the same government aid naturalized citizens do, the report states.

The impact report additionally points out data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states Latinx people are 2.8 times more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than their non-Latinx counterparts, and 4.6 times more likely to be hospitalized.

Individuals and businesses that meet certain eligibility criteria can receive help from the fund.

An individual must be from Dane County, not have access to a work permit, be ineligible to receive a federal stimulus check and have an emergent need like an upcoming rent payment.

Businesses should also be located in Dane County, have lost income during the pandemic, have an undocumented owner who does not have access to federal and state funds, possess emergent needs and be able to submit tax information.

“I am undocumented and I am no one,” an anonymous applicant said of receiving aid in the report. “I can’t receive support from any place, and I need to pay my bills and (find) food for my children. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Another person said they are a single mother of four children who has urgent expenses they struggle to cover amid the pandemic.

“I am scared,” she said.

More people said they applied for help because they had gone three weeks without employment, or they were a parent of four children who lost their job late last year.

Those voices are the reason each member said they hope the fund has even more reach in 2021. Even so, it supplements for what they felt national, state and local governments should have provided in spring 2020.

For more information, or to donate to the 2021 fund, visit micentro.org. To find out how to submit an application, call (608) 255-3018 or email reception@micentro.org.

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.

Emilie Heidemann joined Wisconsin Media Group in 2018, where she serves as the community and business editor for four publications, as well as a quarterly magazine. Emilie covers the Village of Oregon and Fitchburg community beat.