Advocates ask state to direct more COVID relief aid to communities of color

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Gov. Chris Sununu. File Photo/Evan Lips

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A group of Black, Latino and immigrant business owners and community advocates is calling on Gov. Chris Sununu and lawmakers to direct more COVID-19 relief money to minority communities.

In a letter delivered Friday, the group asked officials to direct $5 million of the state’s COVID recovery funds to businesses, health services, and other recovery efforts in Black, brown, and immigrant communities.

The request comes as groups across the state and country call on public officials to address racial inequities brought to the fore by the killing of George Floyd and the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people of color.

In New Hampshire, data from the state health department indicates the state’s Black and Latino residents make up a disproportionately large share of the overall number of COVID-19 infections.

But Deo Mwano, a small business owner in Manchester, says the state is not doing enough to help minority communities in its recovery efforts.
Mwano says the state should have conducted better outreach to ensure that non-English speakers and non-white residents know how to apply for emergency funds from the state.

Deo Mwano/file photo

“The [state] could have put emphasis to say: ‘Hey, we want to make sure everyone knows these resources exist,’” Mwano told NHPR. “They could have reached out to community leaders. The state just did stuff on a typical basis, and the typical basis reflects the white experience.”
The state isn’t collecting demographic data on grant recipients, making it hard to know for sure whether relief funds are reaching minority communities.

The letter requests that — in addition to $5 million in COVID recovery efforts for non-profits, businesses, and immigrant students — Sununu appoint a cabinet-level position “to tackle systemic inequality.”

The Governor’s office could not be reached for comment Friday.

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