Ilustración diseñada por Brian Breneman

Resources for the Bay Area’s undocumented community during the coronavirus pandemic

On March 19, California Gov. Gavin Newsom implemented a statewide “Shelter at Home” order which asks state residents to remain inside their homes and leave only if it is essential. The drastic measure is to help mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 (this link has information about this virus for which there is no treatment or vaccine yet).

What is considered essential? 

Going out to buy food, pick up medicine or medical visits is considered essential. You are allowed to go out for solitary exercise as well and those with pets are also allowed to take them out for a walk.

What types of establishments will remain open?

Places like grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants (for delivery only), and hardware stores are also on the “essential” list. Other exceptions include health workers, police, firefighters, and other first responders and utility providers such as electricians, plumbers, and workers who pick up trash or wash the streets. Any other profession or trade is not on the list.

What precautions should we follow?

The measure emphasizes the need to maintain a distance between people of at least 1.8 meters (6 feet.) The order has no expiration date. In the coming weeks, the evolution of the COVID-19 virus mitigation process will be re-evaluated.

What is the government doing to help?

The government is in negotiations to implement emergency measures that will provide economic aid. Unfortunately, the undocumented community cannot make use of such federal financial aid, unless Congress and the President agree to include all those who do not have a valid social security number. Here in California you can receive state disability insurance (SDI) if you stopped working to care for someone in your family who is sick (either from the COVID-19 virus or some other illness).

What resources are there for the undocumented community that needs medical care? What can you do if you and your family need food or financial help to pay your rent?

 This guide will provide you with information about some organizations that you can go where your immigration status will not matter and where you can be sure that immigration officers will not have access to your information and you will not be at risk. 

The guide is classified by services. If you need help, please check if you live near any of the places mentioned to provide support during this public health crisis.

Illustration by Brian Breneman
Illustration by Brian Breneman

Medical Assistance

In California, you can receive emergency Medi-Cal coverage. You can call: 1-800-541-5555 where they can give you information for the documentation you need to submit.

In Alameda County, there is a program called HealthPAC, which provides low-cost medical services as well as medications. There are clinics throughout the Bay Area that accept this coverage. In the city of Oakland, the Day Hospital within Highland Hospital is one of them, as is the La Clinica De La Raza in Fruitvale. In this link you will find the list of all the clinics where you can go. You can also call 1-877-879-9633, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

In San Francisco there is a program called Healthy SF which provides low-cost medical services, as well as medicines. You can call 415-615-4555 to receive information on how to enroll. In this link you will find more information.  

In Santa Clara County, there is the Primary Care Access Program (PCAP) program. If you need an interpreter you can call 888-363-3394. At this link you will find a list of community clinics where you can go to register for this health program. If you live in Mountain View, Palo Alto or Sunnyvale, you can call 650-327-8717, Mayview Community Health Center where you can pay per visit or fill out the form for the Access to Primary Care Program.

Places that provide free food

The Alameda County Food Bank provides a food pantry to all people without financial resources. You can call 1-800-870-3663 where they will give you information on the place closest to you. If you prefer to do it online, this link will help you find where to get help. 

The San Francisco and Marin County Food Bank provides weekly groceries to families and seniors. You can call 415-820-1699 to get information to the place closest to you. In this link you will find more information. 

The Oakland Unified District Nutrition Services Department is operating 12 places where parents with their children can receive free meals. Locations are open Monday and Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Several days of food can be picked up to take home. You are asked to bring a grocery bag. In this link you will find which schools have this free service. 

The San Francisco Unified School District has 19 open sites where families can receive free meals that include fresh fruit, vegetables, and milk. The sites are open from Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. In this link you will find a map with the list of the places where you can go. 

The San José Unified School District is providing free breakfast and lunch to children under the age of 18. The sites are open from Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 11:00 a.m. In this link you will find a map with the list of the places where you can go. 

Financial Aid

Disability Forms and Publications. At this link you will find all the necessary information on how to obtain disability insurance if you stopped working because of caring for someone in your family who has become ill. You can receive this help if you are on the payroll of your job and your immigration status does not matter. You can also call 1-800-480-3287 to fill out the form over the phone. 

Keep Oakland Housed Initiative If you need financial help to pay your rent, there are two Oakland offices that can help you. The first is Bay Area Community Services (BACS). Call 510-238-5091 to make an appointment, have your rental agreement and photo identification handy. Catholic Charities East Bay can also provide you with financial assistance to pay your rent, especially if you have received a 3-Day Notice from your landlord. Call 510-768-3100. The two offices are in Oakland.

Oakland Undocumented Community Relief Fund This fund is available to all Oakland residents who do not have a valid Social Security number. The application to ask for help will be available through this link from March 28. You can also call 510-437-1554 to speak to someone from La Raza Legal Center for more information. 

Business Loans through KIVA If you own a business anywhere in the Bay Area and need financial help to stay afloat for the duration of this crisis, KIVA can provide you with loans of up to $ 15,000. In this link you will find the application and information you need.

Legal Aid 

East Bay Community Law Center is a clinic in Berkeley that provides free legal aid. If you have any questions about your rent or need legal advice with an immigration process, they can help you. You can call 510-548-4040 for more information. This link will give you more information (the website is in English). 

Centro Legal de la Raza. Located in Oakland, it provides legal help with questions about rent, job problems, and immigration help. Call 510-437-1554 for more information. This link will give you more information (the website is in English). 

Other Resources

Buses operating under AC Transit will not be charging fares until further notice. Users are asked to board the truck from the rear to maintain the governor-required distance between people. 

The community center, Street Level Health Project in Oakland provides medical help, and legal resources if you have questions about employment issues. It also offers help to day laborers. You can call 510-533-9906 or go to this link that will take you to the community center page where you can read more information. 

Comcast internet service. If you are part of a low-income family, you can get low-cost internet service. The company is also offering free WiFi service. If you are already a user, your service will not be disconnected if you cannot pay your bill. In this link you will find the form that you must fill out to receive low cost service. 

Mujeres Unidas y Activas If you are an immigrant woman and want training advice or are in crisis, you can call 415-431-2562. MUA has offices in Oakland and San Francisco.

Alameda County Family Justice Center this center offers help if you are experiencing a family crisis. If you have been sexually assaulted or suffer from domestic violence. You can call 510-267-8800 or 1-800-799-7233. The office is located in the city of Oakland. In this link you will find more information.