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Latest News 4.3.20
A GROWING CRISIS IN NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY
We’d like to provide you with the latest summary of the conditions in the communities we serve in North St. Louis County and what Beyond Housing and our many nonprofit partners are doing to help many of our region’s most vulnerable during this crisis.
Much like we saw during the 2008 financial crisis, low-income families and communities have been the hardest hit and will be among the last to recover. Right now, many families are already hurting. Because of this, Beyond Housing and our nonprofit partners are currently implementing emergency assistance efforts to lessen the severe impact this pandemic is already having on the 24:1 Community—a community comprised of municipalities within the Normandy schools footprint.
Rental and Utility Assistance
Currently, around 25% of the residents in our 400 affordable rental homes are already behind in rent and we expect that percentage to quickly rise. For this reason, we are waiving all late fees and evictions until further notice. We are also working to convene resources for rent and utility assistance to prevent families from falling further behind.
Providing this assistance will have an enormous financial impact on our organization but this assistance is badly needed. Without it, many of these families, local businesses, and vital community stakeholders will continue to struggle long after this pandemic has ended, and some may never fully recover.
Addressing Food Scarcity
Food scarcity is already a significant challenge in the 24:1 Community and we are taking several steps to address this.
Currently, Beyond Housing, Operation Food Search, and the Normandy Schools Collaborative are providing weekday food distribution for all children in the community. Twenty school buses are delivering grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to the school bus stops throughout the community, as well as the seven Normandy schools.
We are also purchasing $10,000 worth of Save A Lot gift cards to distribute to families and individuals in need.
To ensure that children have food for the weekend, our Family Engagement Liaisons (FELs)—thirteen staff members who in ordinary times work in each of the Normandy schools to ensure families in need receive necessary resources to keep children in school—have ramped up our backpack program by sending 500-600 backpacks filled with food to homes every Friday.
On Saturday, March 30th, Beyond Housing also held its first drive-thru food distribution. This event clearly demonstrates the overwhelming need for food within the community. By 9a.m., a line of cars began forming even though the event wasn’t scheduled to begin until 11a.m. Because of this, the gates were opened early and all 450 prepared meals were distributed in under forty-five minutes. Those who were still waiting in line were referred to other local food banks.
In addition to food, many of the residents here are also running out of toiletries and we and our partners are working to provide these essentials.
Built for These Times
In many ways, Beyond Housing was built for challenges such as this one. Over the years, we have built a human infrastructure of staff and nonprofit partners with deep connections within the community. Because of this infrastructure, we are able to switch gears to deliver the necessary resources needed to make an immediate impact. There is also strength in numbers that makes us and each of our nonprofit partners stronger and more effective together. Once this crisis has ended and this community has recovered, we will once again look forward and resume our work of building a better future for families, this community, and our region.
This Is the Time to Come Together
If there’s one thing this crisis makes clear, it’s how dependent we are on each other.
We hope that everyone in St. Louis continues to look out for their families, friends, and neighbors. We also hope that people remember there are others right now who desperately need our help, and that organizations like ours can’t do it alone.
We need each other, now more than ever.