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United Way launches relief fund for COVID-19 pandemic

An assist to the homeless

OW Staff Writer | 3/20/2020, midnight

As the nation responds to the coronavirus pandemic, United Way of Greater Los Angeles has announced the creation of the Pandemic Relief Fund to support L.A. County’s unsheltered residents. These persons are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, and low-income individuals, students and families at imminent risk of homelessness and hardships due to health and economic impacts of coronavirus.

“The people of Los Angeles are rising to the challenge of the coronavirus with swift action, but both impacts on health and economic sacrifice will hit our most vulnerable neighbors the hardest,” said Elise Buik, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles. “Reductions in work schedules, school closures, and challenges accessing health care to treat illness disproportionately affect low-income individuals and families. We can ensure people receive the support they need to survive this time of uncertainty without falling into homelessness or financial crisis.”

Currently, an estimated 59,000 people in Los Angeles are experiencing homelessness on any given night, without the ability to obtain consistent shelter or health care. Additionally, a reported 1.7 million working families in the County struggle in poverty.  

United Way will initiate the fund with $250,000 from emergency reserves that will be used to catalyze additional donations from the public and philanthropic organizations. The fund will:

  1. Support the public health response to protect unsheltered residents & frontline organizations and individuals serving L.A.’s most vulnerable through this crisis, including:

— Materials and supplies to support street medicine and outreach teams providing care and disease prevention to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness and care teams inside shelters

— Capital costs to reconfigure space at shelter sites to meet emergency health standards and improve long-term quality and care; outdoor hand-washing and hygiene stations

  1. Prevent growth in homelessness due to economic impacts of coronavirus to low-income individuals and families, through targeted investments where jobs and wage reductions are disproportionately impacted, including:

— Support to workers, including domestic workers, low-income entrepreneurs (such as street vendors), day laborers, and workers in key industries severely impacted

— Emergency supports, such as housing and utilities assistance, for residents at imminent risk of homelessness

  1. Provide support to low-income students and their families who require assistance with technology and other means to stay connected to their academic instruction and learning.

  2. Provide additional support to our non-profit partners, in alignment with United Way’s mission to break the cycle of poverty, that experience a decline in giving due to the pandemic and its impact on the economy and giving cycles.

 More details at https://www.unitedwayla.org/en/give/pandemic-relief-fund/