President & CEO, Chicanos Por La Causa
In what ways has your organization had to “pivot” as the short-term impacts of the pandemic took hold?
Chicanos Por La Causa operates in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and California, impacting almost 380,000 lives annually and many more indirectly. Our management team immediately went into pandemic mode. Office workers who could work from home have been doing so since March. Staff whose jobs required they meet with the public were advised of the latest COVID-19 preventative practices. The safety of our nearly 1,000 employees and the public is our top priority. We immediately realized it was not “business as usual” and addressed the resulting economic challenges. We hustled to get PPP loans to keep small businesses open. We serviced more than 920 loans, saving nearly 4,000 jobs. CPLC helped families facing crisis-related emergencies through rent and utility help and assistance to fight homelessness. We provided refurbished computers for students forced to learn at home, helping to address the digital divide. We provided basic needs and food boxes, including holiday bags. We have been involved with messaging prevention, testing, tracking and soon, helping out with vaccination distribution. In short, it was more than a “pivot.” It was more of “a full-court press” and we will continue to do so to serve the Latino community.
What trends are you experiencing in your own industry, across the U.S. and globally, related to expected long-term impacts of the pandemic?
Most local and state COVID-19 relief efforts have come from the federal government. We know there is still political wrangling in Washington, D.C., with eviction moratoriums and supplemental unemployment insurance soon to expire. For an alarming number of people, the initial $1,200 individual stimulus check sent early in the pandemic is gone – as are any personal emergency funds. Many people have lost their jobs or seen their hours greatly reduced. In addition to many Latinos suffering from COVID-19, many families may soon face eviction – possibly their first such housing emergency. As a society, how can we help both landlord and tenant? We await the next relief package and the one after that. Perhaps 40% or more Arizonans who contracted the virus are Latino with a much higher death rate than the general population, yet the ensuing economic crisis will be felt for months and perhaps years by our most vulnerable. We must think both short-term and long-term. We must recover as a unified nation in an equitable way.
From your business vantage point, what qualities put the Tucson region in a position to recover quicker economically and more effectively than other regions?
One of the great advantages of our state, particularly our region, is its wide open space. Our ability to remain socially distant and leverage the research, technological and medical expertise of the University of Arizona, Banner Health and others is extremely advantageous. The robust multicultural community and sunny climate make us highly attractive to many industries globally.
What are some of the attributes of Tucson that you personally enjoy?
We are so fortunate here in Arizona to have such natural beauty. I particularly enjoy the Sonoran Desert landscape, mountains, history and culture. My family and I consider Tucson our second home. We have a house here, two of our daughters attend UArizona and Pima Community College and our son lives and works here. My CPLC Familia has been actively serving the greater Tucson community for 40 years! When I’m here, without a doubt, I am home.