As protests over police brutality continue in cities across the United States and around the world, this is an extraordinary moment of pain for the nation, especially for African Americans who are bearing the brunt of three crises — police violence, crushing unemployment and the deadliest infectious disease in a century. Public health experts, activists and lawmakers say the triple threat requires a coordinated response.
The precise toll that the coronavirus has taken on people of color remains unknown; not every state collects data. But an analysis of data from 40 states and the District of Columbia, released last by the nonpartisan APM Research Lab, found African Americans are more than twice as likely as whites, Latinos or Asian-Americans to die from the coronavirus. In some states, the disparity is much greater. However, many African Americans feel they are just as likely to die from a police officer as they are from Covid-19”. Devastating job losses are also “hitting Black workers and their families especially hard,” according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute.
The mass incarceration of African Americans has only worsened the pandemic’s heavy toll on minorities. African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at five times the rate of whites, according to the Sentencing Project, a Washington advocacy group. Prisons are breeding grounds for the coronavirus, and jails pose a huge threat, because people cycle in and out, spreading disease in their neighborhoods.
For many involved in the protests, police brutality is deeply personal. Some have lost friends or family members to police brutality or have experienced disrespect or unnecessary jail time for minor and subjective offenses. The Coronavirus has caused many to lose jobs. Less than 1 in 5 African American workers and 1 in 6 Hispanics can work from home. Many are front-line workers — in grocery stores, hospitals, mass transit systems — putting themselves and their families at risk of infection.
When we examine policies and practices that create and maintain racial disparities, we can challenge harmful stereotypes and narratives that shape the way people of color are perceived and treated. Making this practice consistent will provide effective solutions by shifting the
responsibility for the outcomes from people of color to systems of oppression.
The Houston Area Urban League (HAUL) was organized in the Houston community at a pivotal time (1968). While civil rights issues were being addressed nationally, it became a goal for business and community leaders in Houston to address those issues locally. The impetus for this goal was the awareness by those leaders that education, employment and training were essential to the economic survival of African American families. HAUL operates programs targeting residents in economically disadvantaged geographic areas in the Greater Houston
areas: Education, Workforce Development & Training, Housing, Small Business Development and Health Advocacy.
Workforce Development is designed to help families become economically stable through techniques for job search, application, interview, and employment retention with the goal of economic and family self-sufficiency. Workforce Training provides clients certified occupational
and soft skills training designed to remove employment barriers to earning livable wages.
Home Buyer Education, Housing Counseling and Social Service Guidance Counseling provides educational awareness regarding acquisition of safe, decent, and affordable housing for low to moderate income families in the community. Additionally, homeownership
preservation thru budgeting and credit management counseling.
Education and Youth Development via after School Programs; Mentoring, Literacy and Parent Engagement provides programs that embrace a “cradle-to-career” model, preparing youth to be self-sufficient adults, while supporting early parent coaching in their child’s
The Houston Economic Empowerment Center (HEEC) works with private, public and nonprofit resources to build strong, sustainable and successful minority businesses. The result will be wealth creation, job creation and better economic health in the minority and urban core
communities of the Greater Houston Area.
Community Health Outreach
HAUL’s Health and Wellness initiative provides services that help individuals live longer and have a better quality of life for their families, communities and ultimately the nation. Emphasis is on reaching audiences who do not respond to traditional outreach approaches and do not make use of necessary resources.
As part of our COVID-19 recovery, we have launched Safe Houston II. We are helping existing
and new clients impacted by COVID-19. We are providing emergency financial resources to
clients to address current unemployment and re-employment, upskilling and re-skilling to the
Greater Houston community. HAUL will provide case management, resource navigation,
housing insecurity counseling, occupational skills training and other emergency needs to those
underserved in some of Houston’s poorest and hardest hit communities. The workforce
component of the program will ultimately provide select clients with credentials and employment
referrals, techniques for job search, career transition, interview skills, and instruction on the
application process while creating employment pathways with the long-term goal of family self-sufficiency.
- Phone Bank Outreach – Experienced Case Managers that can help those affected and
their families navigate the variety of approved resources for medical assistance,
childcare resources, and other immediate needs such as food.
- Housing Counselor Assistance – HUD Certified Disaster Case Management to ensure
sustainable housing during the crisis. Assistance with mortgage debt restructuring, fair
housing rights, rental assistance for veterans and surviving spouses and families.
- Workforce Assistance – Experienced workforce professionals to assist with job
readiness training (resume prep., Soft skills, NCCER prep., and online orientation) and
financial coaches to assist with financial prioritization and rapid new employment
- Education Navigators – Zoom presentations on parental engagement with students
and literacy and reading sessions for children ages 5 to 11. Tips for parents and
navigation to trusted partners in the education space during school closures.
- Community Advocate – A critical need of expansion is Citizen Rights Case
Management. An individual familiar with access to existing resources for citizens whose
civil rights may have been compromised. Help clients with proper protocols to seek
justice or resolution of issues regarding access to fair housing, discrimination, policing or
other apparent injustices. Experienced in community organizing, effective in stakeholder
communications, and policy.
HAUL continues to approach the needs of the community in a holistic fashion. The need for
increased community advocacy will allow HAUL to provide a more comprehensive response to
the current climate families are encountering. Assisting where possible in addressing the
immediate emergencies so many are facing will increase the likelihood of the other pillars of a
sustainable community; an education, a job, a home, your health, and an opportunity to thrive.