COVID-19 Updates: What’s Being Done

By United Way of King County Posted on March 24, 2020 In Fighting Homelessness, News

Because of COVID-19, the needs of the most vulnerable people in our community are increasing—for families living paycheck-to-paycheck, the loss of employment is wreaking havoc across the county.

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 donors.

Screenshot of Lauren McGowan from the Facebook Livestream broadcast.

For many people, this is the first time they’ve needed to access services. We’re working to provide a one-stop resource for all the help that’s out there.

So what resources are people looking for? When we ask the question of agencies and people in the community, ‘What do you need most?’, here’s what we’re hearing:

#1. Rental Assistance. Lucky for Washington state that Governor Inslee has instituted a moratorium on evictions for the next 30 days. This will keep thousands of families housed—and is a necessary move during this crisis. But when the crisis passes, back-rent will still be due and with your help, United Way will be there to help. Home Base is an eviction program that launched nearly a year ago and the team will be in place to help families who qualify, stay in their home.  

#2. Access to Food. With schools closed and children at home, families are having to provide unplanned-for meals. Our team is staffing grab n’ go meal sites at schools and delivering drop-off meals directly to low-income housing complexes. We’re working to expand the City of Seattle’s grocery voucher program—which provides two Safeway vouchers, $400 each, to families who are currently enrolled in City-supported child care programs and food assistance programs—to an additional 25,000 families across the county.  

Across both of these needs, we’re hearing from community college students how at-risk their education is. Students at community colleges tend to be low-income and people of color. Our normal work of being on nine campuses across the county is being amplified so that these students can be connected to services and not miss a beat in their education. Your donation helps make this work possible—and is critical to keep it going.

How the work is getting done:

  • AmeriCorps team. Each year, United Way taps federal resources to build out a team of 120+ AmeriCorps members. They are typically our eyes and ears on the ground at college campuses, summer meals sites and Free Tax sites. In this COVID-19 crisis, they are in place, up-to-speed and have been critical in delivering services to people who so quickly needed them.
  • Hundreds of volunteers. Each year we offer free tax services at 33 sites – with nearly 1,000 volunteers! These volunteers are eager to help and we’re mobilizing them to do phone bank work from the comfort of their homes – getting the word out about how to file their taxes for free and remind folks to fill in Census 2020.
  • Dollars from generous donors like you. The needs of just one month ago have gone up exponentially. In order for us to meet the already existing—and now growing—needs, your financial support is critical. Thank you for going above and beyond for our neighbors in this unprecedented time of need.

What else would you like to see us working on? Other needs you’re seeing from your neighbors?


Michelle Kim
April 14, 2020

Hi, how do I apply for the Grocery Voucher for displaced workers, Covid-19?
Thank you!

United Way of King County
April 17, 2020

Hi Michelle, Unfortunately the food voucher program is not currently accepting applications because the program is oversubscribed at the moment. There are other food resources listed on our COVID-19 Resource page that might help you and we are encouraging people to call 211 for additional services.

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