STATE OF THE COMMUNITY: RESPONDING TO WIDESPREAD CHALLENGES, PART ONE

0417202020

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Latest News 4.17.20

STATE OF THE COMMUNITY: 
RESPONDING TO WIDESPREAD CHALLENGES, PART ONE

COVID-19 has created a crisis in North St. Louis County unlike anything before. Here in the Normandy schools footprint, municipalities and families that have always had to make the best of limited resources are now in a state of emergency.

Severe challenges exist on multiple fronts: For municipalities, the loss of sales tax revenues that will impact budgets in the near future threatens to hamper the ability to provide essential public services. In Normandy schools, the district has gone to great lengths to ensure that students can attend virtual classes by purchasing 600 Chromebooks; even so, many students still have no access to computers or internet which puts them at risk of falling behind. Across the area, thousands of hardworking families who work multiple low-earning jobs to make ends meet have lost their income and are in desperate need of food as well as rent and utility assistance just to make it through the coming weeks.

Each of these challenges are significant on their own. Together they—along with a higher concentration of confirmed COVID-19 cases compared to the rest of the St. Louis region—have created a perfect storm that is unlike anything we have previously seen.

Because of this, Beyond Housing and our partners are working with local government, business, and residents across multiple fronts to help the people and communities that have been the hardest hit in the St. Louis region.


Municipal Government

Beyond Housing is meeting and working with the mayors within the 24:1 Community on an ongoing basis to address budget and resource challenges in the near future. The mayors and municipalities are collaborating on how to best meet the increased needs of residents and are sharing resources and information to ensure all their residents have access to what they need to weather the storm.

In the midst of this crisis, the City of Normandy, the Village of Glen Echo Park, and Beyond Housing are working together on a merger between both municipalities. Once completed, this will be the second merger ever in St. Louis County—with the first also being in the 24:1 Community when Vinita Terrace merged with the City of Vinita Park in 2017.

Actions being taken:

  • State and local representatives were brought in to discuss with mayors how their municipalities can access federal dollars as part of the stimulus package.
     
  • Police departments have made agreements to share resources and personnel in the event that one of their forces are infected by COVID-19. Just recently, an officer with the North County Police Cooperative was hospitalized due to the virus.
     
  • Police and other municipal officials are being utilized to check on senior citizens throughout the community to ensure their well-being.

Health

As we reported in our April 9th State of the Community, White House officials and news outlets are stating that the black population is being disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus and that underlying health issues including asthma and diabetes can lead to poor outcomes with COVID-19.

This is certainly the case in North St. Louis County, which has the highest concentration of COVID-19 cases in the St. Louis region. Two family members of students in our Viking Advantage college matched-saving program have recently died due to COVID-19.

Until recently, there had been no testing available within the Normandy schools footprint. This is essential to prevent further spread of the virus, especially considering many people here do not have access to transportation and are unable to travel longer distances.

Actions being taken:

  • We have partnered with Affinia Healthcare to open a COVID-19 testing station behind their location in Beyond Housing’s commercial property on Page Avenue in Pagedale.
     
  • Affinia Healthcare has opened the testing station with $25,000 provided by Beyond Housing as well as funding from other partners including the Community Impact Network, the Missouri Foundation for Health, and JPMorgan Chase.

Education

With schools closed, the Normandy Schools Collaborative has gone to great lengths to ensure that students can attend virtual classes by purchasing 600 Chromebooks for students. Even with this investment, some students are still without a computer and unable to attend class. Others are unable to attend because they don’t have internet access. This puts these students, some who have already struggled academically, further behind. Additionally, with so many families focused on overcoming the challenges of basic survival, school has become less of a priority.

The current situation is exacerbating the challenges the district and many students have already faced and is making the transition to college more difficult for high school seniors.

Actions being taken:

  • Our partners, including the Community Impact Network, are working to provide Chromebooks to students.
     
  • Beyond Housing is looking at increasing internet access and bandwidth for the community.
     
  • Beyond Housing’s Family Engagement Liaisons (FELs) are reaching out to all of the families, checking on their well-being, sharing news and information about available resources, and working to support their virtual learning needs.
     
  • The FELs are also working with the Normandy Schools Collaborative to facilitate food distribution throughout the community to meet families’ basic needs so students can focus on school.

In State of the Community: Responding to Widespread Challenges, Part II we’ll cover what we and our partners are doing to address challenges with food insecurity, housing, and economic development.

Beyond Housing is a nationally recognized, place-based community development organization that serves the 24:1 Community—an area comprised of municipalities within the Normandy schools footprint. Our work brings civic leaders, targeted non-profits, corporations, and residents together to provide the infrastructure, support, and resources to improve lives, strengthen families, and create meaningful and lasting impact for communities and the greater St. Louis region for generations to come.



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