Dear trusted leaders of Frederick County and its municipalities:
The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented. None of us can possibly predict what comes next. But in this moment of great uncertainty and fear, there is hope in our community coming together and leaving nobody behind. We commend Frederick County’s swift and compassionate efforts to enact crucial measures that protect the health and welfare of residents, including the closing of schools and public facilities while still offering free meals to children, suspension of utility shutoffs, and postponement of evictions. This response has demonstrated how seriously you take the recommendations of our leading health and emergency management professionals.
The magnitude of this crisis requires that our local governments build on this progress and go even further to address the unique challenges facing the low-income residents of Frederick. According to the latest Asset Limited Income Constrained and Employed (ALICE) report, 39 percent of county households can’t afford the basic cost of living, and even before COVID-19, were just one emergency away from extreme hardship, including homelessness. As you plan actions and issue recommendations, the impact on the most vulnerable and marginalized families must inform every choice.
Many don’t have the option to follow the limited public health guidelines issued so far. People who work hourly jobs and are not covered by paid sick leave have no option but to go to work — leaving children unsupervised at home, and inevitably in streets and public parks. For these families, the risk of going hungry and falling further behind will sadly outweigh the risk of contracting and spreading the virus.
Low-income residents, particularly families, should not have to choose between protecting their financial well-being or protecting their health. They should be able to do both. It is the responsibility of our state and local government and institutions to make sure that the needs of every resident of Frederick County are addressed. We cannot risk waiting for federal assistance and guidance, which may be too little and too late.
There are many specific measures that could help keep our poorest residents, and our community as a whole, safe through this crisis. We call on Frederick County and city officials to consider the following local actions:
- Providing various academic alternatives to accommodate those students, particularly elementary school students, without a computer at home.
- Ensuring paid sick leave is provided to the working people in our community.
- Postponing, or assisting with, rental and mortgage payments to allow working people to prioritize their own health and the health of their community.
- Advocating a legal and judicial stay, prohibiting debt collection.
- Offering free basic transit during this difficult period.
- Expanding temporary housing for homeless residents will decrease transmission within vulnerable populations.
We, the undersigned, support these types of measures and any other efforts that provide necessary resources equitably, to ALL Frederick County communities. Please count on our personal support and the support of our houses of worship and community-based organizations for whatever is needed to keep our communities safe, healthy and thriving. By allowing our compassion and unity to lead us, we will emerge from this crisis as a stronger community than ever before.
I Believe in Me Inc.
RISE Coalition (Resources for Immigrant Support and Empowerment)
Centro Hispano de Frederick
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Frederick
NAACP of Frederick County
AACF (Asian American Center of Frederick)
Spanish Speaking Community of Maryland
Justice Jobs of MD
Karen A. Yoho, community advocate, Frederick
Daniel Eliezer, community activist, Frederick
The Meeting of Frederick Socialists
Claudia Hernandez, coordinator of family engagement and partnerships, FCPS
Tarolyn Thrasher, vice president, Justice Jobs of MD
Nick Brown, executive director, Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs
Ana L. Mejia, community liaison/homeless coordinator, Waverley Elementary School
Kavonte Duckett, emergency shelter director, Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs
Desiree Tucker, executive director, Women Solve
Maria Rodríguez, community activist for Spanish-speaking families
Dr. Syed Wasimul Haque, president, Frederick County Muslim Council
Rabbi Jordan Hersh, Beth Sholom Congregation
Krisma Jackson, youth services coordinator, Housing Authority of the City of Frederick
Rabbi Simon Stratford, Kol Ami Congregation
Khalil Elshazly, president, Islamic Society of Frederick
The Rev. Mark Groover, Asbury United Methodist Church
The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg, minister, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick
The Rev. Dr. Eliezer Valentín-Castañon, senior pastor, Trinity United Methodist Church
The Rev. Adrien P. Dawson, rector, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Frederick
The Rev. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ
Ron Young, District 3, Maryland state Senate
Karen Lewis Young, District 3A, Maryland House of Delegates
Ken Kerr, District 3B, Maryland House of Delegates
Kai Hagen, Frederick County Council
Jessica Fitzwater, Frederick County Council
Liz Barrett, Frederick County Board of Education
Donna Kuzemchak, alderwoman, city of Frederick
Derek Shackelford, alderman, city of Frederick
Roger Wilson, alderman, city of Frederick
Ben MacShane, alderman, city of Frederick