Project Hope Boston’s Family Shelter in Dorchester and Community Building in Roxbury sit within the Boston communities hardest hit by COVID-19.

Impact: The early months of COVID-19 forced much of our community into housing instability, food insecurity, and dependency on technology many did not have. Project Hope responded to more than 800 families with financial assistance to cover bills and family needs, eviction prevention and housing counseling, support to access public resources, as well as housing search services. Among those who came to us in crisis, 45% reported needing rental assistance; 53% experienced food insecurity and nearly 60% were enduring impacts of unemployment in their households. For women enrolled in our Workforce & Education programming, 85% did not have access to computers when the pandemic began. 25% lacked internet service at home, and 50% had limited experience or comfort with technology.

Response: Our Family Shelter remained open and a safe place to live for families who had nowhere else to call home. However, our Community Building in Roxbury was forced to close, changing the way we responded to community need for housing services, job training and education. We established systems to navigate the pandemic virtually with our families. For families who could not leave home, we delivered food, supplies and computer equipment. We remained in close contact via telephone and internet, making sure families had the resources they needed and standing by them emotionally through illness, job loss and uncertainty.

Funding: Individual donors, foundations, as well as corporate and community partners joined forces to see us through and cover unforeseen expenses resulting from COVID-19. They provided in-kind donations of food, diapers and other supplies for our Family Shelter residents, laptop computers for staff who transitioned to working full time from home, as well as technology and chrome books for our adult learners. We are grateful to our friends and donors who saw us through this critical time with more than $200,000 raised in financial and in-kind giving.

Moving Forward: Eight months since the pandemic began, the struggle remains for our families. For many, rent and utility arrearages have mounted despite their best efforts.  With more than 100 eviction prevention and stabilization cases pending among our families, we have reserved COVID-19 funding to assist these families now that the eviction moratorium has expired. COVID-19 also revealed a technology divide that we must be present to in our programming. Without proper computers and skill in using technology, our participants cannot succeed in the virtual landscape we all depend upon for our learning, employment searches and communication. We now provide computer access and training as a first step component of every education program we offer at Project Hope. We also moved our classes online to ensure our students can continue moving toward their learning and employment goals.


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