COVID-19 Updates: Is Help Getting to Where It’s Needed?

By United Way of King County, on April 2, 2020 | In News

The first of the month is a critical time for so many people living paycheck-to-paycheck. People are looking forward to payday; if you rely on public benefits, they arrive today. On the other hand, rent is due. The kids have been out of school for weeks – the food budget is tight; food banks are operating on reduced hours.  

Because of the financial impact of COVID-19, the needs on this first day of April are even greater. For so many families, the loss of employment is wreaking havoc across the county. 

Chris Capossela, Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft and United Way of King County Co-Chair and Lauren McGowan, Sr. Director of Ending Homelessness and Poverty, gave some on-the-ground updates of what the team is seeing—and fielded questions from listeners. 

We’ve been talking with people who have suddenly found themselves in need—and other service providers to determine where the dollars are needed most. Donations from the Community Relief Fund: COVID-19 are being spent this way: 

Rental assistance. Our online application will be ready next week. As an extension of our eviction prevention program, Home Base, we will be providing immediate help to people who have received a late notice. While Governor Inslee has instituted a moratorium on evictions for 30 days, back-rent will still be due.  

Access to food. In addition to expanding the city of Seattle grocery voucher program, we’re staffing grab n’ go meal sites at schools and delivering drop-off meals directly to low-income housing complexes.  

College students in poverty. So many of local community college students were already experiencing homelessness (1 out of 5 in Washington state) and more than half report not knowing where their next meal will come from. As so many students working at restaurants and rideshare jobs lose their income, these everyday stresses are exacerbated. Our college completion program, Bridge to Finish, is helping people make ends meet and stay in school. 

On community college campuses, we have nursing students struggling to make ends meet. Our college completion program is helping them stay in school.

Lauren McGowan, Sr. Director Ending Homelessness and Poverty 

How can you help? 

  • Complete your Census! This crisis underscores the need to be counted. It’s how the government knows where money is needed—for things like hospitals, schools, affordable housing and transportation. It also determines how many representatives Washington state will have in congress. You can complete the census online until the deadline on July 31st.
  • Virtual volunteering. From phone banking to getting the word out about services to coordinating a virtual supply drive, there are lots of ways to get involved and get back.  
  • Advocacy. The stimulus bill recently passed has been incredible for tenants and people on the brink of homelessness. It also included support for people who are already experiencing homelessness—and this happened because people advocated for the cause. Your voice does make a difference! 
  • Influence your coworkers and employer. So many companies are stepping up – and they’re doing it at the recommendation of their employees. Microsoft has made Microsoft Teams free to help people work remotely, they have increased their match for employee giving – all because someone on the team shared a good idea. 
  • Donate. You can choose where to direct your dollars in this crisis – and we’ll be sure they get to people who need it. 
  • Follow us on social to join us for next week’s livestream.


Ma. Isabel Hernandez Martinez
April 10, 2020

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