Individuals who were already disadvantaged — the homeless population, refugees, incarcerated people — will find their living situations increasingly perilous. Crowded living situations where social distancing is impossible are now hazardous. Researchers have estimated that the coronavirus pandemic is likely to kill more than 3,400 people experiencing homelessness across the United States, with an estimated immediate need for 400,000 additional emergency accommodation beds to manage the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the homeless population. New collaborations between local governments and organizations with empty beds — hotels and dorms — fill some of the need. You can help by:
Supporting nonprofits with a track record of working with populations already homeless or at immediate risk of homelessness, such as:
- For homeless and low-income families: The National Coalition to End Homelessness works nationally
- For homeless mothers in the U.S.: The Homeless Prenatal Program, based in San Francisco, providing resources nationally
- For youth-facing homelessness in the U.S.: Covenant House, with sites across the U.S.
- For immigrants in the U.S.: The Humanitarian Migrant Fund, the New York Immigrant Coalition, Al Otro Lado
- For refugees: The International Rescue Committee, working with refugees in 40 countries, including the U.S., Greece, Italy, Syria, and Yemen
- For victims of domestic violence: Women Against Abuse (Philadelphia)
- For those with substance use disorders: Pathways to Housing PA
Providing cash transfers and other financial support to those made newly vulnerable. With a record 10 million people filing for unemployment in the last two weeks of March, the need will be greater than the CARES Act can reach. GiveDirectly, which distributes cash directly to impoverished households, is developing a COVID-19 cash response program where donors can give cash directly to Americans affected by the disease and the economic downturn. Grantspace.org lists other organizations that provide emergency grants for other professions, regions, unions, and other affinities. For example, Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) launched the Louisiana Service and Hospitality Family Assistance Program, an initiative to support negatively impacted Louisiana service and hospitality workers in a hard-hit tourist economy.
Ensure access to social benefit programs for eligible households. Benefits Data Trust (BDT), which connects people to benefits and service in six states, has seen an increase in calls from individuals — including a 79% increase in calls in the last week of March, many from first-time callers. They are also helping state and local government understand and adapt to new federal laws and supporting community-based organizations facing increased demand and strain. In South Carolina, SC Thrive provides a contact center that residents can call to apply for benefits over the phone. These benefits range from Medicaid and SNAP applications, to filing taxes and voter registration.
For more on the nonprofits we mention, see Nonprofits to Give To (Examples & Sources).