During disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic, vulnerable populations are the most affected. In East Lake, essential services that the East Lake Foundation (ELF) and our partners regularly provide to community residents have been disrupted. With schools closed, children most at risk often lose access to food and learning spaces. Parents working in essential businesses or at home struggle without adequate childcare. For lower-wage workers without a safety net, the shutdown of many employers creates layoffs and even greater economic insecurity. And in this situation, many families do not have enough money to pay rent and utilities, putting them at risk of homelessness if they cannot recover financially.
ELF is working closely with partner organizations to help families in crisis address these challenges. We are assisting the East Lake Family YMCA and Atlanta Community Food Bank with a weekly food distribution and connecting families to other food distribution programs and pantries. We are reaching out to families and seniors at risk of crisis and responding to numerous requests for assistance from other community residents, making referrals, suggesting resources and helping problem-solve.
Based on outreach to residents and community partners, we see an opportunity to provide targeted support in areas of need to stabilize families and help avert further crisis. ELF has created the East Lake Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund with a $1 million fundraising goal that will be distributed in two phases:
- Phase 1 – Homelessness prevention through funding for rental and utility assistance for residents of The Villages of East Lake (VOEL), the mixed-income housing that ELF developed, and provision of vital personal care and cleaning items
- Phase 2 – Ensuring that families in need in East Lake and Kirkwood can access critical fee-based education and wellness programs when ELF partners resume services.