SIGNAL TRIBUNE | Staff Report | April 21, 2020
The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI) is launching the “In This Together” emergency response project that will focus on improving access to food security, digital inclusion, small-business support and HUD-Certified housing counseling in low income and minority communities during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an April 20 press release by LBCEI.
LBCEI’s Board of Directors decided to give $250,000 of program funding, mostly from Bridge Development Partners, to support families and small businesses in north, central and west Long Beach beginning Monday, April 20.
“We applaud LBCEI for their instinct to be responsive to today’s unique challenges, in order to create a more resilient, inclusive, vibrant community that can overcome this crisis. That commitment to positive transformation matches our values, making them an ideal partner for Bridge Development,” Brian Wilson of Bridge Development Partners said.
Additional funding for the program is being provided by Wells Fargo, United Way, Local Initiatives Support Committee-LA and the Long Beach Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund and the Office of 9th District Councilmember Rex Richardson.
“We are proud of LBCEI and the In This Together initiative, focused on bringing together valuable community-based organizations that are on the front line to ensure diverse communities and businesses have a seat at the table,” 9th District Councilmember Rex Richardson said. “Together we can continue to provide opportunities for our neighbors to thrive.”
In This Together aims to help communities with racial income gaps and economic barriers overcome the current health crisis.
To increase food security in vulnerable Long Beach communities LBCEI will support eight additional food assistance programs at community-based sites. LBCEI’s partner Organic Harvest Gardens in North Long Beach will also deliver fresh, locally grown food for free to low-income seniors in Long Beach who cannot leave their homes.
LBCEI will also partner with Human-I-T to provide more than 300 laptops to low income families with students enrolled in the YMCA Early Childhood and Youth Institute programs, Long Beach City College students and other nonprofit partners.
LBCEI will aid underrepresented small businesses in north, central and west Long Beach by partnering with “business navigators,” who will connect them to resources offered by the City’s Economic Development Department.
A “Housing Support Hotline” has also been planned for the near future, to provide advice for Long Beach residents dealing with housing insecurity due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“We are grateful that our partners are completely in-tuned with our redirection,” LBCEI Board Chair Bob Cabeza said, “and understand the long-term community benefits of an equitable economy. For our nonprofit to be able to build capacity and opportunities, we will depend on solid partnerships with groups like Bridge Development and Wells Fargo, who value social responsibility. We believe our smartest approach to building a thriving economy is to work together to break down barriers to opportunity, because we are all in this together.”