Courtesy of Kendra Brooks.

In response to area demonstrations against police violence and COVID-related budget cuts, at-large Councilmember Kendra Brooks has started a new emergency aid program to help constituents access critical supplies.

“We’re concerned with people’s immediate needs,” Maggie Hart, the council member’s communications director, says. “That’s why the council member decided to launch an emergency relief [program].” The uprising speaks to generations of disinvestment, oppression, and structural inequalities, Hart says.

“Because of the looting and the damage to properties, a lot of grocery stores are closed , where people [might need] help getting to shopping centers that are still functioning,” Tomika Anglin, Brooks’ chief of staff, explains. “Our goal is to get people to where they need to be…facilitate some of that shopping and connect them to the resources.” This includes helping coordinate food pickups from distribution places and working with volunteers to provide rides.

Brooks’ aid efforts are focused on getting food and medicine to those in need, especially those whose budgets rely on scheduled federal assistance programs. “It’s the beginning of the month, where social security checks [and food stamps] are issued,” Anglin explains, “So people who would normally begin to do their shopping for the month, may not have that kind of access.”

Philadelphians can sign up for food and medicine delivery assistance by calling Brooks’ office at 215–686–0461 or fill out a request form.

As a candidate, Brooks’ campaign platform focused on issues including affordable housing, workers rights, food access, and economic insecurity. The mayor’s proposed budget cuts in response to a $650 million budget hole due to financial losses caused by the pandemic includes a $14 million cut to the Housing Trust Fund.

Affordable housing advocates argue that slashing the city’s affordable housing fund, which included maintenance and financial assistance for first-time homeowners, will exacerbate economic fallout and devastate access to critical resources for the communities hit hardest by the virus. In response to the cuts, Brooks and fellow council members Helen Gym and Jamie Gauthier introduced an Emergency Housing Protection package comprising six bills and one resolution.

Today at 2pm, Brooks’ office, along with the 215 People’s Alliance and WURD Radio, are co-hosting a discussion on COVID-19’s impact on the Black community and the call for a Black stimulus.