Initiative To Bring Resources to Hard Hit Areas
By Dianne Anderson
While everyone waits for the go-ahead to return to their new normal, #InThisTogetherLongBeach recently jumpstarted its emergency response campaign of the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion.
The nonprofit LBCEI is rising through the pandemic crisis to help support the community and local businesses and underserved areas of the city. Recently, they held their first board meeting to brainstorm ways of getting essential services and economic help out to those most in need.
Melissa Morgan, spokesperson for the nonprofit, said it became clear that something needed to be done over and above their original focus in light of Covid-19.
LBCEI quickly shifted focus, putting more energy behind essential services and economic opportunities.
They are bringing nonprofits, and community-based organizations together to work with one another through the initiative. To help the hard-hit communities of North, West, and Central Long Beach, $250,000 of funding for allocation is coming from several supporting partners, including Wells Fargo and Bridge Development.
“We’re looking at food security, digital inclusion, and ways to support small businesses and help for people with housing counseling and how to stay in their homes, at their property, or if they’re renting,” she said.
The nonprofit campaign was born out of an initiative with Councilman Rex Richardson and the city’s economic development department. For over two years, they’ve been listening to community concerns to determine persistent areas of need. From there, they engaged community partners around economic equity.
The initiative started in 2017 as EveryoneIn, which included implementing the Community Development Corporation for LBCEI. The nonprofit targets community partner agencies, and other nonprofits to get funding out to local organizations that are already working hard to help the impacted communities.
Morgan said they are still in the process of determining the most pressing areas of need to be able to deploy the resources.
“You have young people that need to be in school but they may not have a computer, they need the internet. Seniors may not be able to go to the grocery store and get food,” she said.
Other priorities include helping Black-owned businesses and hair salons to access support that may be available to them from various sources.
“How are the small businesses doing? What are their needs? Are they trying to operate right now are they aware of the laws? What kind of support to apply for some funding that the government has let out so in the future they can pick up business again,” she said.
Another important aspect of their outreach includes addressing food insecurity. She said there is a great little known organic food garden in North Long Beach that is partnering to provide fresh local food to the community.
“They’ve been growing and we’re helping them deliver it to low-income seniors across the city for free. We’re focusing on seniors. We’re giving about 200 boxes a week in the coming weeks,” she said.
Particularly these days, digital inclusion is essential for all. The nonprofit is partnering with the local nonprofit Human-I-T to give out laptops that can help bridge the digital divide. It is focused on Long Beach City College students.
Housing counseling is their fourth focus area. The outreach will also offer a housing support hotline to provide counseling to residents who are now dealing with the aftermath of Covid19 challenges, such as late rental or mortgage payments.
Eventually, the initiative will shift back to its original focus that had offered several other community development plans. But for now, addressing the pandemic impact to the community is taking precedence, she said.
They are excited to help the people where they are, especially in these challenging times.
“We’ll always be working with small businesses, entrepreneurship support, workforce and youth development, affordable housing and homeownership, economic resiliency, and connectedness,” she said.
For more information, see https://www.lbcei.org/