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:
- 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:
- Emergency Vouchers for Groceries: 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- 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
- The City of Seattle has created a new Small Business Stabilization Fund which will be open for applications October 12-November 1, 2020. The Office of Economic Development OED will invest an additional $5.2 million to stabilize small businesses. The Small Business Stabilization Fund (SBSF) provides $10,000 grants to small businesses throughout Seattle who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. This fund prioritizes businesses located in areas of the city that are at risk of high-displacement, micro-enterprise businesses, creative sector businesses, and businesses that have experienced the greatest economic impacts. OED will provide 67 percent of grants to businesses with five or fewer employees that are located in high-displacement risk areas.
Housing & Rent Assistance:
- 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 (email@example.com).
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for communities and workers
The COVID-19 Response Fund at the Seattle Foundation
In March, a first round of grants distributed more than $10 million to 128 nonprofits navigating the immediate economic and health impacts of the pandemic. In April, the Fund augmented those initial investments with an additional $850,000 in grants that further addressed mounting food insecurity in our region. In mid-June, Phase 2 grants deployed $9.2 million to 220 nonprofits and coalitions, focusing on childcare, mental and behavior health, and emergency financial assistance. In future phases, the Fund will continue to adapt to urgent and emerging needs as they evolve. Learn more about the principles guiding the Fund.
Arts organizations and workers
In collaboration with the arts and culture community and its supporters, ArtsFund created 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 email@example.com.
- Seattle Artist Relief Fund
SARF is the largest source of direct COVID relief funds to artists in Washington State to date. What was supposed to be a few weeks of emergency funding has now been six months of work building and sustaining a grassroots mutual aid effort that has inspired a number of similar efforts across the country. The generosity of our community–and the scale of the impact of this crisis–were so much larger than we ever could have imagined. Donations in any amount are truly appreciated and can be made on their website.
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
Looking for other ways?
All in WA
The All In WA fund was created to support workers and families across Washington State. Visit their website to see all of the many ways you can support your community.