By Alisa Magnotta
We sent out the last HACbeat newsletter just days before deciding to shift our organization to a remote work model in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has changed in seven weeks!
Housing Assistance has remained open and is serving more than twice the volume of clients before the pandemic began. Calls are coming in from every town and both islands. Nearly double the requests for past-due rental assistance were received in the first week after the closure of non-essential businesses.
Foreclosure prevention requests were up 400% in the month of March over the pre-COVID average. We’ve redeployed some of our staff to help with the dramatic increase in requests for assistance.
If you know anyone who is struggling with housing issues, please tell them to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-771-5400. Our intake staff can direct people to a variety of local, state and federal programs for which they may be eligible.
And we’ve established the Workforce Housing Relief Fund to help people who fall just outside eligibility for government programs, and yet still need help to get through this crisis.
I’m truly moved by how much our community cares for each other! Already, we have raised more than $700,000 for the Workforce Housing Relief Fund which will provide housing payments to stabilize more than 180 households impacted by the virus and impacted by the housing affordability crisis in our region. It means the world to a person in crisis when we are able to say to them, yes we can help.
We are not forgetting about the most vulnerable among us during this time: those without a home to keep them safe. We are working with Barnstable County, Duffy Health Center, Catholic Social Services and food pantries to ensure that the homeless can access food, services, and sanitation now that many meal and other service buildings are closed.
At our family homeless shelters, we have created increased safety protocols and we have been able to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus in these group housing situations. The staff and parents are doing a good job keeping each other safe and entertained. We are still accepting care packages for families in shelters.
This crisis has demonstrated the importance of housing. When our healthcare providers and government officials say the best intervention for this virus is to stay home, we can see the direct link that safe, affordable housing has with our good health and a vibrant economy. Those of us able to shelter in place can see quickly what an incredible privilege it is.
When one’s housing is threatened with a sudden job loss or healthcare scare, we begin to realize how this pandemic is impacting our community.
We are tracking legislation and government relief programs, as well as advocating for more resources and working with our representatives to ensure that we secure the maximum housing benefits for the year-rounders who make our community work. We appreciate your support and thank you for your continued commitment to each other and Housing Assistance’s mission.