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New hotline can assist LGBTQ community affected by virus

Offered by Equality California

OW Staff Writer | 5/22/2020, midnight

LGBTQ+ Californians impacted by the COVID-19 crisis can access resources and support services through a new website and hotline launched this week by Los Angeles-based Equality California.

“The COVID-19 LGBTQ+ Help Center and Help Line are roadmaps for members of our community to find the support they need from providers who know and care about LGBTQ+ people,’’ Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur said. “We’re in this together. Whether you need to get tested, file for unemployment or a loan, find a foodbank or talk to a mental health professional, we’re here to help.’’

Equality California, which is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, will roll out additional services on its Help Center website in the coming weeks. Planned offerings include comprehensive directories of service providers in each of the state’s 58 counties and a series of free webinars for people facing unemployment or lost wages.

Organization leaders said the LGBTQ+ community has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis because of underlying health disparities, including higher rates of HIV and higher use of tobacco products. LGBTQ+ people also are less likely to have health insurance and access to care.

They also said the LGBTQ+ population faces economic vulnerabilities because its members “are overrepresented in the industries hit hardest by economic fallout,’’ such as food services, hospitality and gig work.

“There is a tremendous amount of need, and while many resources and support services are available, they aren’t necessarily getting into the right hands,’’ according to Equality California. “The goal of the Help Center and Help Line is to make that connection.’’

The COVID-19 LGBTQ+ Help Center and Help Line were made possible by grants from the AT&T Foundation and Sempra Energy Foundation.

LGBTQ+ Californians facing healthcare, financial, social challenges are encouraged to visit covid19.eqca.org or call (323) 448-0126 for assistance.