COVID-19 – Crisis Advocacy for Systemic Change

More than ever, we need to advocate for systemic change that ensures healthcare, paid sick time, access to secure shelter/housing, and support for the justice-involved.

While natural disasters, including health pandemics, do not discriminate, their long-term impact disproportionately falls on low-income communities of color.

The COVID-19 crisis lays bare the racism and poverty many communities experience daily. This nation has a long history of federal action in the time of crisis that excludes and/or severely falls short of meeting the needs of low-income, aging and disabled, Black and Brown, and undocumented communities.

Families in these communities are already struggling to access the healthcare system, comprehensive coverage, and quality care. These families often lack the resources to manage even minor financial emergencies. Many struggle every day simply to secure housing, food, and healthcare and to maintain employment. Policies and proposals at the state and federal levels such as public charge, work requirements, and block grants further push people into poverty.

Our nation’s sordid and racist commitment to mass incarceration and the criminalization of Black and Brown communities puts them directly in harm’s way, without the liberty to safely shelter in place and support their loved ones in this time of crisis.

Comprehensive relief to help navigate this crisis protects vulnerable individuals and families now and moves toward long overdue systemic change. The Shriver Center on Poverty Law is advocating all on fronts to call out the necessary law and policy changes and budget allocations needed to sustainably bring this response to scale. Rapid action at the federal, state, and local level is imperative. Check back for regular updates to this page.


Shriver Center Calls on Congress for Federal Action to Protect Vulnerable Populations from COVID-19
We urge members of Congress to take whatever action is possible to protect all people, including those most vulnerable to the confluence of the public health and economic consequences of this crisis.

Shriver Center Urges Supreme Court to Suspend Public Charge Rule
We have filed a motion asking the Supreme Court to suspend enforcement of the public charge rule in light of the current public health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

New HUD Notice Provides An Opportunity for PHAs to Open Their Doors to Returning Citizens
For many, even before COVID-19, living with family offers one of the most affordable, stable, and commonly-used housing options available. In the midst of a pandemic, it is critical to make this a viable option for protecting the safety of individuals, families, and their communities.


Shriver Center Urges Illinois Governor Pritzker to Adopt COVID-19 Policy Priorities for Low-Income Communities
These are the top policy strategies to protect communities likely to experience the harshest health, housing, court, justice system, and economic impacts from the COVID-19 crisis in Illinois.

The Need for Immediate Action by the Department of Children and Family Services To Protect Parental Rights While Ensuring Public Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Department’s response must be aimed at achieving this two-pronged goal and not leave families at risk of contracting COVID-19 or stymie progress towards family reunification in a time when connection with and to loved ones is as important as ever.

Immediate Steps Needed to Protect People in Illinois Prisons 
People in prison are simply not able to engage in the “social distancing” that public health officials have stressed is mandatory to combat the rate of illness.

Open Letter to the Illinois Supreme Court: Request for Immediate Action to Ensure Public Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Illinois’ civil courts can take important steps to relieve economic suffering and ensure that Illinoisans stay housed, safe, and able to follow all public health recommendations.

Recommendations for Illinois State Legislative Actions in Response to COVID-19
We urge Governor Pritzker to include these initiatives in the budget or the emergency omnibus bill the General Assembly puts forth to fight COVID-19.

Stimulus Payments Intercepted by the State for Nonpayment of Child Support Should Go to Struggling Families
We urge Illinois to use recovery rebate offsets to support custodial parents.

Illinois Legislation Would Offer Renters and Homeowners Financial Relief and Protections
Everyone deserves access to safe, stable housing, especially during a pandemic. 

Chicago/Cook County

Shriver Center Urges the City of Chicago to Take Critical Action to Protect Residents
There are critical steps that must be taken immediately to ensure the well-being of our most vulnerable and at-risk populations.

Statement from Advocates to Chief Judge Evans: Need for Immediate Additional Action by Cook County Courts to Ensure Public Safety during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Specific actions must protect the health and well-being of the people of Cook County, both in custody and in the public.

Community Resources

COVID-19 Resources for Individuals and Families in Illinois

Fuel our work to respond to this crisis.

More Information

Systemic inequities and the legacy of structural racism make it harder for low-income people and people of color to achieve financial stability.

Healthcare is a human right. The high cost of care means millions of families have no access to the critical care all human beings deserve.

Shelter is not only a basic human need, it is also critical to people’s ability to pursue and attain economic stability.

We center parents in advocating for policies and laws that strengthen families.

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