By: Editorial Staff Posted: 03/18/2020

Find out how you can support your community during the coronavirus outbreak

The coronavirus continues to heavily affect our region, but we will get through this together. Below are recommendations of organizations that are deploying resources quickly into our communities—and how you can help!

We are continuing to assess needs and funds addressing those needs including child care, gaps in services for people experiencing homelessness and support for students and their families. This article will be updated as we identify gaps and efforts underway to fill those gaps.

Emergency food assistance:

The need for emergency food assistance in our community will only grow in the coming weeks as workers experience job losses, seniors find themselves homebound, and traditional school nutrition and other community feeding programs are interrupted. Here are three ways that you can help: 

  1. Support Food Banks: Our region’s food banks estimate that 640,000 additional Washington State residents will need emergency food assistance during this crisis. Food banks are working together to transform their logistics and delivery systems to quickly get needed meals to those in need while reducing the risk of spreading the virus. Regional food networks are working to supply area food banks with multi-meal family boxes that can be picked up at drive thru locations or delivered to home-bound seniors. The immediate need is $5 million to provide 1.3 million meals statewide.To support these efforts, please donate to:

    Northwest Harvest 
    Food LifeLine

  2. Emergency Vouchers for Groceries: The City of Seattle has partnered with Safeway and QFC to provide vouchers to families in need to cover groceries. The program will provide $100/week for 8 weeks, to help families through this crisis.The City of Seattle has contributed $5 million, which will provide 8 weeks of groceries for 6,250 families in need. In partnership with the United Way of King County, the city seeks to raise an additional $15 million to support the grocery needs of 25,000 families. Donate here and note “EMERGENCY FOOD VOUCHER” in the comments or contact Lauren McGowan at the United Way of King County (lmcgowan@uwkc.org).
  3. Prepared Meals for those in Need: Farestart, which provides job training and other services for individuals experiencing homelessness, is rapidly scaling to increase production of emergency meals for shelters, quarantine and isolation centers, and other facilities housing those most at-risk for COVID-19. FareStart delivered nearly 21,000 meals last week and are positioned to scale up to more than 15,000 meals every day. FareStart is working with City and County governments to identify the meal needs, coordinating with community partners to meet meal demands, and centralizing food buying and meal planning to ensure efficiencies.  

Small business support

  1. The City of Seattle has created a Small Business Stabilization Fund. The 2020 Emergency Fund for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 launched by the Office of Economic Development last week provides grants to support the day-to-day operating expenses of eligible microbusinesses, such as payroll or losses due to destabilizing events. Grants are capped at $10,000. There is now $2.5M in this fund, with more than 1800 eligible applicants. The goal is to raise $15M to support 1500 more small businesses.

    The City of Seattle is accepting direct financial contributions to this fund. To donate, contact Shefali Ranganathan at Shefali.Ranganathan@seattle.gov to confirm your contribution amount.
  2.  The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce has set up a fund to complement the City’s effort. The Keep Workers Safe and Healthy Fund is focused on providing continuity for vulnerable businesses, including those who may not be eligible for the City’s program, and their employees. The fund has two main goals: to keep healthcare coverage intact for employees through April 2020, whether they have employer-sponsored benefits or receive subsidies for health insurance, and keeping employees safe by reimbursing employers for janitorial services, protective equipment, and supplies.

    The goal for this fund is $10 million. Please contact pledge@seattlechamber.com to make a contribution to this fund. The Chamber is working to set up a website to accept online contributions.

Housing & Rent Assistance:

  1. COVID-19 Rental Assistance Fund/United Way King County Home Base:

    To address the economic and social impact the COVID-19 outbreak is having on low and moderate income households, United Way of King County launched a COVID-19 Rental Assistance Fund. In the last two weeks we have seen thousands of layoffs in our region and a significant increase in requests for rental assistance among households because of the loss of income associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. With a $3.9 million investment we can help at least 1,000 households with emergency rental assistance.

    Preventing homelessness is cost effective, helps our neighbors avoid the trauma of homelessness, and takes pressure off of a regional crisis response system that is already over capacity. This COVID-19 Rental Assistance Fund will expand the United Way Home Base Program to aid households who are at greatest risk of homelessness and housing instability and prevent a larger public health emergency due to an increase in the homeless population.

    The COVID-19 Rental Assistance Fund complements policy measures – such as eviction moratoriums - by providing short term rental assistance that avoid the eviction in the first place. More than 70% of people served by the current Home Base program are people of color - making this a strong racial equity strategy. Donate here and note “RENTAL ASSISTANCE” in the comments or contact Lauren McGowan at the United Way of King County (lmcgowan@uwkc.org).
  2. Housing Connector
    Proposal for Emergency Rental Relief for Low-income Families

    Housing Connector is a B2B organization, incubated and housed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber, partnering with private property owners and managers to reduce barriers and connect families with vacant units in the market. Housing Connector is requesting an initial infusion of funding of $500k to provide emergency rental support to over 570 current residents as well as an additional 100 low-income households facing hardship at Housing Connector property partners in King County.

    Currently Housing Connector has housed and supports 570 individuals in over 180 households and partners with over 170 private properties throughout King County. All Housing Connector residents were previously experiencing homelessness and will be disproportionately impacted by the economic fallout of COVID-19, resulting in the need for additional rental support.

    To support current and future households with rental payments through August 2020, Housing Connector forecasts a 41% increase in rental payment above budget, resulting in a $200k funding gap.

    Beyond current residents, Housing Connector is uniquely positioned to scale and expand housing stability support to more individuals in King County. With established partnerships with properties and build in mechanisms for distributing rental support, Housing Connector can scale to ensure hundreds of additional low-income families and property owners have the safety net to weather these turbulent times. Speed of scale is critical given that April rent payments are two weeks away.

    Housing Connector projects that for every $300k in additional funding, 100 households/300 individuals can access emergency rental support through May 2020. Not only does this strategy provide stability to families, it provides financial stability to hundreds of landlords in our community. Donations to Housing Connector can be made to the Chamber Community Foundation. To donate, please contact accounting@seattlechamber.com.

Support for communities and workers

The COVID-19 Response Fund at the Seattle Foundation was set up by leading businesses and philanthropies in our region. The fund is focused on:

Providing flexible resources to organizations working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of the outbreak. The Fund is designed to complement the work of public health officials and expand local capacity to address all aspects of the outbreak as efficiently as possible.In the near-term, one-time operating grants will fund organizations that have deep roots within priority populations, such as:

  • Residents without health insurance and/or access to sick days
  • Residents with limited English language proficiency
  • Healthcare and gig economy workers
  • Communities of color

Currently the fund has raised $11M and is finalizing criteria for distribution of funds.  The plan to have two-thirds of the funds distributed by the end of March to organizations.

Arts organizations and workers

ArtsFund, in collaboration with the arts and culture community and its supporters, is creating the Covid-19 Arts Emergency Relief Fund to provide unrestricted general operating grants to arts organizations. The Fund is designed to provide short-term relief in the form of unrestricted grants funding to meet immediate needs, including payroll and occupancy costs.  For more information, contact Sue Coliton, ArtsFund interim President & CEO, at suecoliton@artsfund.org.  

Blood supply

Our blood supply is critically low. Bloodworks NW is in need of donors. You can help by:

  • Donating blood
  • Getting the message out to others to donate blood

In-kind donations

The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce has partnered with King County to identify food, supplies, and furniture needed for the isolation, quarantine, and recovery sites that the County has set up. Individuals who may temporarily stay in these locations may include people who do not have a separate bedroom in their home away from a family member who is elderly or medically fragile, students in congregate dormitory settings, or persons experiencing homelessness.

King County is looking for large, bulk donations. Please see the list of items needed here, and visit the King County Office of Emergency Management donations page or email donations@kingcounty.gov to coordinate your donation.

Donations of protective equipment and gear are also welcome. Please visit the Department of Enterprise Services donation page to see how you can help.

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For general questions or more information please contact Lindsay Roitman (lindsay.roitman@microsoft.com or (206) 851-5092).