W.Va. pastor proposing federal money be used for low-income and African-American communities

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) — Every night for the past 55 nights, during the COVID-19 shutdown, Pastor Matthew Watts, with Grace Bible Church in Charleston, West Virginia, has taken to social media to broadcast a daily message.

One Charleston pastor is hoping policy makers will put federal funds towards low-income and African-American communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, on Tuesday night's broadcast, he was hopeful his message would reach the ears of policy makers in West Virginia.

"What we’re saying is when you realize the magnitude of the problem that we are facing: a looming health, public health crisis we have $1.25 billion coming from the federal government," Watts said.

Watts said it would be "appropriate" to set aside 20% of the $1.25 billion, which would be $250 million, for low-income and African-American communities.

He said the money should go toward these communities, as they are part of the vulnerable population.

"Some communities don’t even have a grocery store where they can go buy fresh vegetables so, they end up buying things from convenient stores, gas stations, etc. unhealthy foods, high in fats, high in sugar and very expensive," he said.

According to the CDC website, health differences between racial and ethnic groups are often due to economic and social conditions that are more common among minorities than whites.

"My last 20 years of involvement in working with state agencies, government, etc. trying to bring attention to the health disparities that exist between African Americans and Caucasians and the poor health outcome for low-income whites," Watts said.

Watts also said some of these communities don't have a primary care physician or hospital nearby, the money he feels could be used to build a health clinic.

It's all in hopes of bringing some of the most vulnerable communities out of the red zone.