What Chelsea will do with additional stimulus funds

CHELSEA, Mass. — Since the start of the pandemic, Boston 25 News reporter Malini Basu has been following hard-hit Chelsea; the city has remained in the red zone since the start of the pandemic.

“In the hardest situation, we are here to support them,” said Gladys Vega, executive director of La Colaborotiva.

“We have phone calls from social workers that tell us, ‘I have a family that doesn’t have any clothing or anything.’”

La Colaborativa has been making sure Vega’s voice has been heard. She, along with Chelsea residents, took to the microphone, demanding more money from the federal stimulus funds. Initially, the city was getting close to $4 million, while other cities and towns were getting much more.

“I was in tears when I found out. I was in tears of being upset,” Vega said.

Then on Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that the state’s four hardest-hit cities, including Chelsea, will receive an additional combined total of $100 million.

“Indeed, our governor did appropriate a funding for Chelsea,” Vega said.

>>>MORE: Chelsea city officials are demanding more money from COVID-19 relief bill

“We began a series of conversations with leaders in the city to try and figure out how to frame what we might do to solve it,” Gov. Baker said during Thursday’s briefing.

Chelsea is a city with mostly a central American population. The city was once the epicenter of the virus in Massachusetts. It’s also a tight-knit community of essential workers who were forced to live in close quarters.

“Those monies will also be support systems that we put in hotels that are looking for affordable housing,” Vega said.

Families would line up for hours waiting to get food, and many were forced to couch surf because they lost their jobs or homes and were forced to live with strangers.

“Inside the conference room, there are families in need, outside is the food pantry,” Vega said.

Vega said Gov. Baker plans on visiting Chelsea later this week, giving everyone hope.

“Members of our community who are going through pain and suffering, we are getting to build our community once again, and this is hopeful,” Vega said.

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