When the crisis of the coronavirus hit Charlotte, the United Way of Central Carolinas and Foundation For The Carolinas partnered to launch the COVID-19 Response Fund.
The COVID-19 Response Fund supports a range of nonprofits, assisting the people most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Importantly, this fund will help not just those who get sick, but also those who are economically impacted.
One of the recipients of the grants was Samaritan House.
They received assistance in the amount of $13,000 to provide safe and secure shelter, nutritious food, transportation to and from appointments and access to needed medications for homeless men and women after a hospital stay.
“During the pandemic, we are a shield for medically at-risk patients in our care. Our patients commonly have medical conditions such as cancer, heart and lung disease and diabetes, among others," said Brad Goforth, executive director of Samaritan House.
The homeless population in Charlotte is vulnerable because of this pandemic. Because they live on the streets, their health conditions are often more chronic and debilitating and their immune systems are degraded.
“From the very beginning Samaritan House decided to stay open and serve our guests, providing care for the sick and injured homeless,” Goforth said. “In order to protect our present guests we are having to curtail new referrals until we can be guaranteed that they are not carrying the virus.”
The organization’s volunteer efforts have slowed because they cannot allow interactions with its guests.
“We are getting around this for people providing meals, but our volunteers welcome guest interactions and miss them. This may ultimately reduce our volunteer force,” Goforth said. “From the funding side, the pandemic closed businesses and stopped people from getting paychecks.”
Since its operations are mostly fixed costs (utilities, food, transportation, and direct care) there is not much room to reduce an already tight budget.
“In the long term, if donations are cut substantially, our potential growth is reduced or eliminated and future operations to provide recuperative care for our homeless population may be reduced,” he said.
Samaritan House began operations in 2005. They have served over 1600 homeless people over the years with over 34,000 days of care, and saved over $223 million in homeless hospital costs by reducing homeless hospital recidivism from over 70% to less than 3%.
“Whether we wear masks from now on or we find a vaccine, we will all get through this,” Goforth said. “Together, we will find a way. In any event, Samaritan House will continue its mission to provide short term care for our sick and injured homeless.”
Because of their care and support, 80% of guests at Samaritan House do not return to the streets upon leaving. Cancer treatment success rates went from less than 50% to 93%. Their model is being replicated in a number of places from Wilmington, North Carolina to Madison, Wisconsin.
“Our hope is that a vaccine will be found so that we will be able to return to our interactions with people, friends and family,” Goforth said. “We also hope that we will all remember to not take our health for granted and be ready for the next one.”
Over the next month, Crisis Assistance Ministry expects an unprecedented emergency for our neighbors who have lost their jobs or had their work hours cut amid the crunching economic downturn, and due to the financial repercussions and disasters the virus has caused for people.
Crisis Assistance Ministry provides assistance and advocacy for people in financial crisis, helping them move toward self-sufficiency.
The combination of difficulties people have paying rent, mortgages, utility payments, spikes in foreclosures and evictions, asserting tenant's rights, homelessness, and a second wave of the coronavirus this winter will be a heavy weight on tens of thousands of families.
WSOC-TV has launched 9 Crisis Help. The funds collected will go directly to Crisis Assistance Ministry to help people pay essential bills.
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