COVID19 Response in Chelsea and East Boston
As an environmental justice organization serving some of MA’s most vulnerable residents, GreenRoots has trumpeted for years that our neighborhoods would be hit first and worst by a disaster. However, we anticipated that the crisis would be climate-related, not the COVID19 pandemic that is ravaging our communities.
Chelsea and East Boston continue to be the hardest-hit communities in MA. In the first pandemic wave, Chelsea’s infection rate was 6x higher than Massachusetts’ rate and higher than the hardest hit boroughs in New York City. Our neighbors fell ill and were dying to a devastating degree. Now, in the newest surge, Chelsea continues to have a consistently high infection rate. East Boston is identified as the hardest hit Boston community, with rates equaling or surpassing those in Chelsea. We are just seeing the beginning of the long-term impacts, both health and economic, of COVID19 in both these communities.
GreenRoots responded to the crisis swiftly and decisively, and continues to play a leadership role in the pandemic response for all of our neighborhoods on both sides of the Chelsea Creek.
Building systems to address community needs was a key initial focus of GreenRoots. On March 11th, GreenRoots coordinated a call of numerous Chelsea stakeholders to plan a coordinated response for the COVID-19 pandemic. This initial call turned into Chelsea’s Pandemic response team, with over 75 stakeholders, 10 working groups, with over 65 days of daily calls. GreenRoots was also instrumental in developing and implementing the East Boston Mutual Aid Network. Both in Chelsea and East Boston, these two systems provided the backbones for community-led responses. In addition, GreenRoots’ coordinated effort around public health (including a letter to Governor Baker with 47 community signatories) led to increased testing and National Guard support for food distribution.
GreenRoots was a founding partner of the One Chelsea Fund, a cash assistance program facilitated through the United Way in collaboration with the City of Chelsea, The Neighborhood Developers and La Colaborativa. Together, we raised more than $1.3 million for distribution to Chelsea residents. To learn more about the fund, check out a One Chelsea Fund Video. GreenRoots distributed approximately 1,700 checks ($425,000 in total) to residents. We are now launching phase II of the fund which will be directed to address anti-displacement efforts in Chelsea. In East Boston, our staff collaborated with Centro Presente which distributed $155,000 to local residents; and weekly boxes of food to food insecure families.
In addition to the aforementioned activities, GreenRoots helped with food distribution, diaper donations, funds for funerals, distributing PPE and multi-lingual message and much more.
To learn more, visit www.greenrootschelsea.org.