How Coronavirus is Affecting Families Now
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and safer at home orders were given, I have been asked several times “what can I do to help?” It is an incredibly encouraging question, but also a daunting one. How can we help? As of this writing, almost 17 million people have filed for unemployment over the last three weeks. That means more than 1 out of every 10 working-age persons is currently out of a job. One can only imagine how this will disproportionally impact the low-wage working class. The eventual totality of the impact of COVID-19 will not be known for many years, but what we do know is that it will and has already struck a massive blow to our fight against family homelessness. I wanted to share a few stories of how this pandemic has already impacted our families because I think it is important to know that this is a real problem affecting real people. Also, when someone asks how they can help, I want to communicate how deep that question can run right now.
We are actively serving 14 working-age individuals with a total of 20 children. So in all, there are 34 individuals dependent on jobs to provide shelter, food, and transportation. Of the 14 working-age individuals, 12 had jobs that either provided or had the potential to provide a living wage at the onset of COVID-19. Now, due to the effects of COVID-19, only 6 are employed. If you don’t want to do the math, that means half of them were either laid off or furloughed from their jobs. In addition, we have had two families that were in stable housing but were displaced due to COVID-19. One of our individuals was working in a designated essential business and was renting a room. She was told by her landlord that they were uncomfortable with her living in the house and working so either she had to quit her job or leave. Because she is dependent on that income for daily living expenses, she left and is now still searching for a stable home. Another individual was working two jobs but was laid off from both due to Coronavirus. She was still able to stay in her housing but recently found out that housing was going away. She was renting space that was shared with a retail store and the owners are no longer able to keep the business due to such a decrease in income so they are closing the shop and moving out of state. Now this family will soon have no place to sleep and again be on the search for safe, stable housing.
I share these sobering stories so that we can start to understanding the reverberating effects of the virus on low-income families. However, there is a silver lining. Since COVID-19, two of our parents have found jobs that wouldn’t have been available otherwise and are hopeful they can remain in their position post-pandemic. We have also had two families that are in the latter stages of securing permanent, stable housing!
Coronavirus is affecting families dramatically and will continue to impact the landscape of homelessness for years to come. How can you help? Here are some specific ways you can help Family Promise of the South Bay. One very helpful way is to donate directly. We will utilize your funds for the highest need which right now is COVID-19 response. If you would prefer to provide supplies, as we function as a one-room schoolhouse, here is our Amazon Wishlist for supplies for our kids. The needs of our families will only increase so you can also plan on volunteering with us once social distancing restrictions are lifted. Or you can come up with something out of the box! You can use your skills and passions to help families!
The list of ways to help is forever long but maybe you should start by giving your neighbor a call to see if they need anything. You can support small businesses that are still operating. You can donate supplies to other organizations that support families that are going to be devastatingly impacted by COVID-19. You can remember that this pandemic is affecting families now and will continue to impact them for years to come.