As we forge ahead to help those in critical need during COVID-19, I am so grateful to the many partners and donors who have stepped up to support United Way’s Pandemic Relief Fund. As soon as the pandemic was named, and the crisis became very real in L.A. County, we immediately launched the Fund, on March 13, 2020.
Since then, we have seen incredible collaboration, compassion, and mass assistance across all sectors and regions to help our most vulnerable neighbors, disproportionately affected by this unprecedented crisis.
So far, we have raised $5 million for our Pandemic Relief Fund. Initial funding met urgent needs such as food supplies, support to working families deeply affected, unsheltered residents who are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, and low-income individuals, students and families at imminent risk of homelessness due to health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
Approximately $3 million has been dedicated to our street strategy work, helping our unsheltered residents with critical supplies and reconfiguring our shelter capacity so we can safely bring in the thousands of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, especially those with underlying health issues.
We will continue to monitor the crisis and fine-tune the distribution of the funding, taking care to balance immediate, urgent needs with longer-term recovery efforts, both of which continue to evolve at a rapid pace. The release of substantial public dollars and the efforts of other funders and funds to address the pandemic have allowed us to be strategic and deliberate with our scarce philanthropic dollars, ensuring we do not duplicate efforts where others are filling in the gaps.
As of this writing, the two most urgent needs in front of us are:
- Access to care and triage for people living on the streets. The clock is ticking as we try to set up a system up that will reach people before they become infected, and set up appropriate care for those who are. Success now can prevent significant deaths and reduce a major source of communal spread.
- Identifying workers who do not qualify for federal dollars, and workers who are disproportionately impacted such as street vendors, domestic workers and day laborers. We will also work with strategic partners in industries who have been significantly impacted.
Another key priority is the sustainability of our non-profit who provide vital services each and every day. We know a decline in fundraising will hit them hard. Together with United Way Worldwide, we are working to advocate for a carve-out of a relief package focused on the nonprofit sector.
We will continue to communicate progress and funding opportunities as they arise, in accordance with our mission and the assessments of immediate and long-term needs.