We envision our relief efforts advancing through multiple phases, yet we know that we need to remain flexible and responsive to changing conditions. The speed at which the pandemic, and the resulting economic crisis in particular, took hold in our community required us to quickly move resources to support large-scale solutions to the rapid surge in demand for basic necessities.
With any large-scale solution, however, we knew that there were likely to be residents for whom community-wide strategies have fallen short. The input of our partner agencies and residents has helped us identify specific constituencies and issues that require special attention:
- Parents are in need of safe activities for their children and childcare as they begin to go back to work.
- The personal progress of intellectually- and developmentally-disabled residents is regressing due to lack of routine mental and physical engagement.
- Immigrants lack the information they need from sources they trust so that they can reach out for assistance.
- Family caregivers are in dire need of counseling and respite.
- Residents are concerned about their mental health and how to safely access counseling.
In response, we have already mobilized certain agencies to work together on these and other issues. We are tremendously fortunate to have funds in-hand to support those solutions.
At the same time we are actively planning to assist the nonprofit sector with its own needs. As a first step, we are working with the United Way to create and distribute reopening kits, complete with a supply of face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and safe reopening guidance. Secondly, we are working with a group of nonprofit leaders to determine how best we can assist the sector with its financial recovery.
This crisis has taxed the widespread mental and emotional wellbeing of our community in ways not experienced since The Great Depression and World Wars. As such, we have encouraged the development of a strategic plan to address this issue, which is now underway and will require our support.
Looking to the future, we anticipate the need to address issues that are presently unseen, including increased cases of domestic violence and child abuse that have taken place during the stay-at-home order.
When courts are back in session, we will need to assist low-income residents with what legal aid societies anticipate as a massive wave of evictions, cut-off of utilities, and repossession of vehicles, any one of which could quickly send a family into a downward spiral.
We will work hand-in-hand with all of our partners to prepare for the unfortunate but anticipated return of COVID-19 in the fall and winter months. We need to have an honest assessment of what has worked and what needs to change so that we are all better-positioned to support the community.
While our relief efforts could end there, we cannot ignore that the pandemic and economic crises laid bare long-standing inequities in our society. Once again we see that these and other events continue to have a disproportionate impact on low-income residents and people of color. We cannot fail to take this opportunity to rectify these inequities, and we hope that you and other community members and organizations will join us in this important work.
What does this work look like? While we will continue to value and support the crucial safety nets already in place for residents in their moments of need, we must address the policies and systems that perpetuate inequitable decision making and nurture power structures that support fair and just outcomes for every member of our community. We hope that you will join us in these efforts in whatever way is possible for you, including your support of our COVID-19 Local Response Fund.