Coronavirus Response: The First Weeks
When United Way of South Hampton Roads first announced the Coronavirus Response Hotline, we expected our phone lines would be consistently busy. With each new call, our case managers knew there was someone on the other end of the line who needed guidance and help during a scary time. To date, we’ve fielded over 1,000 calls and the number increases each day
In the past week, we’ve heard story after story of individuals and families unsure of what to do next, and we know we will hear hundreds more in the weeks to come as more businesses close their doors. Of those who have reached out for assistance, 90% are facing a total loss of income and 60% have children in the home.
“I am a bartender and my income has been cut by two-thirds,” one person reported prior to the state’s mandate that all restaurants must switch to carry-out or delivery only. “I will not be able to pay my rent, buy groceries or make my car payment, and I don’t know what to do.”
When a crisis like this hits our community, our hardest hit neighbors are those already struggling to make ends meet – we call them ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. They are working hard, many of them in hourly jobs with no benefits, and their financial stability can be severely impacted by one crisis – like a missed paycheck.
“I just found out that my husband will be out of work for a month,” an individual stated when requesting financial support. “We are not prepared. We have no funds.”
“My children and myself are sick and have to stay quarantined,” read another request. “My employer is a private business and does not offer paid leave or benefits. Due to the business still being open, I am not eligible for unemployment.”
Of the requests received, 65% are for income support, 18% for emergency food assistance and many are reporting a need for emergency housing. United Way case managers, along with our nonprofit partners across Hampton Roads, are using the Unite Us system to follow each person’s case as they are connected to various resources. This allows us to see if any individuals are experiencing gaps between their need and support received so we can help fill them.
This is where the Coronavirus Recovery Fund steps in. We first work with our wide network of partners to connect people to the resources that are readily available. Once we determine where the gaps exist, we may step in to provide financial support while working with the individual on an action plan to help them strategize how they can best minimize the effects of the crisis long term.
Of the calls received, nearly 30% have already been resolved and we are continuously tracking the progress of the remaining cases. This is a rapidly changing crisis, and we are working diligently with our community partners to address the growing need that exists.
We are incredibly thankful for the support of our community and nonprofit partners, our case managers and individuals who have stepped up during this crisis. In times like these, it’s more important than ever that we choose to LIVE UNITED.
If you would like to make a donation to the Coronavirus Recovery Fund, please visit unitedwayshr.org/coronavirus or text COVID to 41444.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities available during this crisis, please visit our partner VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads.