Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women

by Women's Housing Coalition, Inc.
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Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Open Doors to Change for 100 Homeless Women
Feb 17, 2021

Open Doors to Change Feb 2021 Report

When the lockdown first took place, we found we needed to rely on technology even more than ever. Our SRO buildings did not have Wi-Fi access. Most of our residents, whether they live in our SRO buildings or in scattered site units around the city do not have their own personal Internet access, because the costs are prohibitive. Residents who do have smartphones often have limited data plans that make accessing the Internet problematic. So case managers found they often had to work with residents to handle their personal affairs via the Internet. This included applying for SNAP benefits online, inquiring about SSI benefits online, banking online, or sending documents to the Department of Social Services via email. Case managers helped residents determine if they were eligible for the stimulus check distributed in the spring through the CARES Act, and if they received it, case managers advised residents as they decided how to best use this income. Families living in our buildings could not access online learning, and our case managers worked tirelessly and navigated tremendous amounts of red tape to get each and every family Internet access via hotspots, as well as getting each student a device they could use for school. But all of us made us painfully aware of how the lack of access to Internet and devices made our residents’ lives more difficult, and made tasks that could have been more easily managed online more arduous because that wasn’t an option. As a result, addressing digital equity has been prioritized at WHC. We have applied for funding from various philanthropic organizations, asking for funds to wire our SRO buildings so they can have high speed Internet access, and we can provide instruction on computer use and technology in general. As the pandemic has raged on, and Baltimore City made the decision to open the school year with distance learning, WHC took it upon itself to wire our smallest multi-unit building that houses several of our families with students for high-speed Internet access. We recognized that it was especially important this building to have high-speed Internet so all the students living there could all run their devices simultaneously without lags. This has become one of the main focuses for WHC - closing the digital gap.

The pandemic also required WHC to make shifts in our priorities and in the way we delivered services. Our typical programming consists of groups of residents gathering together in groups of 25 and larger in a classroom setting, so our traditional program was suspended. Instead, we pivoted our programming to address the new needs residents began to have as COVID-19 impacted their day-to-day routines. Through a partnership with JC Faulk and his Bmore Community Food program, and help from volunteers from the Junior League, we began organizing free food delivery to our residents - produce and meats - to limit resident's need to go out for food and to help them stretch grocery budgets. (Many of our residents who work lost their employment due to the pandemic.) We have had hot meals delivered as well through Meals on Wheels. We also began accepting donations of these items from donors. Case managers supplied residents with crafting items, pens, notebooks, books, and even art supplies to parents of children who needed to keep them occupied. The role of the case managers at WHC quickly shifted, as residents leaned on them more than ever to navigate the challenges COVID-19 was presenting from them. The staff put together protocols and procedures for every aspect of their work, crafting guidelines with the advice provided by doctors from Hopkins Hospital, who held weekly meetings for non-profits such as ours who needed counsel about how to best deal with the pandemic. These guidelines including mask wearing throughout the buildings for everyone whenever in common areas, temperature screening for vendors and other necessary service providers entering buildings, and similar procedures. We also had all our SRO buildings deep cleaned, and we plan to do this on a regular basis.

As an organization, Women’s Housing Coalition has had to pivot in unprecedented ways to survive over the past 12 months. When the pandemic happened, our focus became quite pointed – keep our residents safe, healthy, alive, and in (relatively) good enough spirits to navigate their day-to-day lives. Much of our work became very basic needs driven, with increased focus on mental health and wellness. The pandemic also highlighted areas we are prioritizing in a way we hadn’t previously – food insecurity and digital equity. We have leaned on our Board and our community partners more than ever. We are greatly appreciative of the funders such as yourself who have given us funding during this crucial time. Thank you for your support!

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Organization Information

Women's Housing Coalition, Inc.

Location: Baltimore, MD - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @WomensHousingMD
Project Leader:
Sarah Long
Baltimore, MD United States
$20,469 raised of $20,000 goal
 
331 donations
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