At today’s meeting, we heard from Melissa Ontiveros about the issues facing Las Cruces. Ontiveros wears many hats in Las Cruces and around the state, but you may know her best as the co-president of the New Mexico Public Health Association. Many of the issues in this community aren’t as closely related to the virus, but rather the economic impacts that it has caused. Internet, Insurance, and heating/cooling have all become challenges with the loss of jobs brought on by COVID.
The Community Action Agency has been helping out families with children by providing $750/month to help with general household expenses, and referring community members to other agencies that provide food support. The Department of Workforce Solutions could be another option in providing relief to families that have lost their jobs, but we’ve seen such a big backlog on unemployment that the system has been tough to use; some people have been waiting so long that the extra $600/week assistance at the beginning of the pandemic had expired by the time that they were formally unemployed.
We’re also concerned about the lack of social support during the pandemic. Right now, we’re facing a crisis brought on by the virus, but the next crisis will be related to mental health. The biggest concern is with youth and young adults - what are we doing to provide services to them? We need to make sure that we’re providing them the attention and resources they need to succeed in school and social lives.Las Cruces