Cities across the country are still adjusting to the impact of COVID-19, and among them, New Orleans has been one of the hardest regions hit.
Black communities in the city have been disproportionately impacted during the pandemic. Now, fellow New Orleans natives Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams of Cash Money Records have partnered with Mayor LaToya Cantrell to cover rent payments this month for residents living in low-income housing.
As co-founders and brothers who are well-known in their community, Slim and Birdman have committed to invest and give back to those whose struggle they resonate with.
“We all need each other right now,” said Slim in an exclusive interview with Black Enterprise. “I’ve spoken to people over the last several weeks and the one thing that’s a common theme is that we’re all, in so many different ways in so many of the same ways, affected. There’s no one that’s not touched.”
Since the Williams brothers founded their record label almost 25 years ago, they’ve donated resources to several underserved communities in New Orleans through The Johnny and Gladys Williams Foundation, their 501(c)(3) organization named after their parents.
“For at least 10-plus years now, there has been a focus on three areas that they [Slim and Birdman] feel that if they’re able to make an impact with it can have long-term effects and positively helping people and improving the lives of those in New Orleans and anywhere in general. And that’s in housing, healthcare, and education,” said Vernon Brown, Cash Money’s longtime attorney and business manager.
With many people struggling financially to pay bills and rent right now, the Williams brothers want to remove another added stressor for residents suffering from the pandemic.
“We’re able to take the pressure off for one month so that people don’t have the pressure of worrying about their rent,” Slim said.
In a joint press release by FTNO and Cash Money, they stated:
“funds will be used specifically to pay the June rent for hundreds of subsidized tenants and families who are most at need and live in the former Magnolia, Calliope, and Melpomene projects, now known respectively as the Scattered Sites Harmony Oaks, Marrero Commons, and Guste. Tenants will be notified directly if they are included in the grant, which will go to the landlords.”
Within that same statement, Birdman shared his sentiments about the responsibility he has to help his community:
“The legacy of Cash Money belongs to the city of New Orleans. There’s nothing more important to us than giving back to the brothers and sisters who live on those same streets we grew up on—from musicians to service workers to everyday working families. That’s what this label was always about.”
Mayor Cantrell concluded the statement by sharing the following:
“In years to come, when we look back on how our city came together to get through the coronavirus crisis, we will have no better example of leadership than the Williams brothers, these sons of New Orleans who make our city proud today. No one should have to fear losing their home while trying to protect their health. That is why we have been leading the charge in New Orleans to make housing more affordable, and quickly banned evictions in our city during the COVID-19 crisis. This helps us continue that path, demonstrating how we can come together as businesses, government, and non-profits to address our residents’ most pressing needs now.”
In addition to covering rent for the month of June, Cash Money teamed up with local iHeart Media radio stations — in May — to give out $10,000 worth of gift cards to cover the listener’s groceries.