Since COVID-19 coronavirus was declared a pandemic in the U.S. on Friday the 13th of March, people with disabilities, seniors and those with certain underlying health conditions have navigated an unrelenting nightmare of a life threatening public health and economic crisis that has seemed laser focused on them.
The Disability Community Resource Center (DCRC) is a nonprofit source of local and state advocacy serving people with disabilities and seniors on the Westside since 1976. DCRC has a contract with the City of Santa Monica to provide resources to residents with disabilities and seniors involving a range of essential services including, advocacy, case management, housing assistance, transportation assistance, home modification, assistive technology, and peer based support services.
At the City Council meeting on May 5, Council considered a proposal to cut funding to the City of Santa Monica Human Services Grants Program by 12.5%. This would present the Center and other non-profit organizations with a significant funding deficit and hinder the their ability to continue to provide sustaining essential resources to residents with disabilities and seniors, putting their lives at greater risk and undermining their potential for recovery from this crisis.
The proposed cuts seriously undermine Santa Monica’s reputation as a leader in creating an innovative, sustainable city of wellbeing and belonging. It would also put residents with disabilities and seniors using City supports to survive at even more risk of homelessness and death should those supports be abruptly revoked.
That is why, to save and preserve lives, Council should not implement the proposed harmful reductions to the Human Services Grants Program and consider other alternatives to net what would be only modest savings. Indeed, if “we are in this together,” Council should not amplify the already tremendous cost of this pandemic on the very residents who are most impacted.
We believe that all people living and working in Santa Monica should have full and equal access to health, safety and resiliency, which promotes belonging and equity in our community. This is the time to prove that we don’t abandon that commitment by sacrificing our most vulnerable residents when they need us most.
Marielle Kriesel, Systems Change Advocate
TJ Hill, Executive Director
Disability Community Resource Center (DCRC)