CURRENT URGENT NEED:
Onward House staff have been working hard to ensure we support our community:
- Early Childhood & School Age Programs: Our teachers are using e-learning curriculum, and are supporting families via phone and video. For example, our School Age teacher, Matilde, has one-on-one tutoring sessions with the kids, and even returns to Onward House for a few hours to pack activity kits for pick up.
- Computer Classes: When Northwest Housing CDC and First Midwest Bank needed computer training to help businesses prepare to apply for loans/grants assistance, they contacted Onward House. First Midwest Bank provided financial support to help us continue to close the digital divide and provide tailored computer training through platforms like Zoom and WhatsApp for those who need email addresses and basic computer skills to navigate an all-virtual world of assistance funds.
- Food Pantry: In April, we saw the number of people coming to the food pantry double from 40 – 60 families to over
100 202250 families. Those of us who are not high-risk for Covid-19 have taken shifts to pack and hand out food packages, diapers, and other necessities.
- Cash Assistance: To date (August 2020) we have distributed $48,649.50 in cash assistance to help families struggling to pay rent and utility bills.
- Restaurant Program: A grant from the Lavin Foundation has allowed us to partner with two restaurants: Las Americas Grill and Latin Patio to provide free meals to approximately 210 children and parents from Onward House through July and August. This grant provides income for the restaurants, as well as a hot, stress-free meal once a week for families.
- The Bounce: We will be ready to support small businesses when they are ready to reopen. We are working with a graduate of The Lab, JCK Boutique, to help them get back on their feet by reducing their rental costs by 78%. Currently, 5 businesses have had approved PPP loan grants through Onward House application assistance.
While Onward House is financially stable at this moment, we know that the ripple effects of a financial hit will last the longest for our families with few resources. We have made hundreds of phone calls to collect data on needs, childcare arrangements, financial situations, technology needs, and providing referrals where necessary. Our recent survey data shows that:
- 35% of the people we have been in contact with have been laid off or lost their jobs – they are cleaners, caregivers, food & restaurant workers, spa/salon workers, and factory workers.
- Over half the 227 people we’ve surveyed reported difficulty paying for their expenses, including rent, utilities, and grocery bills.
Our friend, former staff, and board member, Linda, has started a campaign for direct financial support that will go towards our most vulnerable families, including those who do not qualify for other relief funds. We have also received emergency funds from the Chicago Community Trust’s COVID-19 Relief fund toward this effort. We have distributed approximately $23,000 to 26 families to pay their rent and utilities. If you’d like to donate to our direct-assistance fund, you can do so here. Of course you can always donate to Onward House and we will allocate it to programs that support our entire community.
In the coming months we will be working to expand our social services, access PPE, finalize a reopen plan, and continue to serve as a hub for support, services, information, and resources for 5,500 neighbors annually. Read our Thank you notes from those who have received services during the COVID-19 crisis.