Editor’s Note: The DC Abortion Fund Board of Directors drafted the statement below, urging Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to work quickly to make cash assistance available to those who are unable to access federal assistance or unemployment benefits.
We call on Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to make cash assistance available to the tens of thousands of District residents who will not be able to access federal assistance or unemployment benefits, including undocumented immigrants, sex workers, street vendors, and others who are a key part of our community and who deserve to be protected.
DC residents who most urgently need cash assistance are disproportionately Black and brown people with low incomes. Unfortunately, pervasive discrimination in employment, health care, education, housing, and adjusting one’s immigration status has led to many DC residents needing to seek income from excluded areas of work under the new program. “Excluded workers” from the cash assistance program are not only the ones who encounter the brunt of systemic discrimination, but also who bear the brunt of the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic itself. While we recognize that the District is not the sole responder, it is a necessity that the labor of all of our residents is valued and recognized by both local and federal governments.
Prior to the COVID-19 national emergency, these communities already experienced systemic barriers to economic stability. DCAF’s callers face a myriad of obstacles when it comes to accessing the care they need, especially our callers whose livelihood falls under “excluded” categories. Since the pandemic began, we have heard firsthand accounts from our callers and volunteers about the additional barriers to abortion access they face, such as added logistical barriers like the lack of transportation and child care, and economic barriers such as a reduction in income or job loss. Cash assistance will allow our callers to meet their basic needs, including access to abortion care.
DCAF stands with the District’s “excluded” workers. During this unprecedented pandemic, it is more important than ever that people can keep themselves safe and healthy and are given what they need to survive. We feel strongly that investing in our community is what we need to navigate and eventually emerge from these trying times with strength and resilience.
We urge Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to work quickly to make cash assistance available to those who are unable to access federal assistance or unemployment benefits in order to promote the health and wellbeing of everyone in our community so that all DC residents can meet their basic needs.