Needs of Pioneer Valley Communities Due to COVID-19

The purpose of this list is to reflect the feedback we are receiving from Pioneer Valley nonprofit organizations about community needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will update this list frequently based on feedback collected from area nonprofits. We encourage nonprofits to share their needs so we, in turn, can inform donors, our own grantmaking, and other partners.

Addiction & Recovery:

  • Loss of employment, stability undermine recovery effort of patients
  • Health concerns / wariness about Group Home Living during COVID-19; many opt out
  • Loss of revenue for treatment providers and group homes
  • Increased isolation / depression and other triggers for patients struggling with recovery

Animal Welfare:

  • Demand for shelter increases when pet owners lose homes
  • Shelters losing staff due to loss of revenue
  • Increased demand for pet food in shelters and for animals at home

Arts and Culture:

  • Loss of revenue for arts and cultural institutions due to closings, cancellations
  • Loss of income for artists
  • Staffing lay-offs

Disabilities:

  • Loss of caregivers (professional and volunteer)
  • Cancellation of vital, daily programs for people with disabilities; increased isolation
  • Loss of revenue
  • Increased costs resulting from social distancing requirements in group home settings
  • Lack of access to food and basic needs

Domestic Violence:

  • Increased reports of abuse, violence
  • Increased demand for services, counseling and emergency shelter
  • Increased demand for emergency placements for children
  • No safe space for children to report abuse
  • Organizations anticipating large spikes in child abuse and preparing for long-term trauma-related counseling and care during recovery.

Education:

  • Increased costs for remote learning
  • Lack of equitable access to technology for all public school children and families
  • Loss of enrollment/revenue for private schools and childcare facilities
  • Early childcare providers face issues surrounding short and long term retention of qualified staff and due to extended closure and higher income from unemployment
  • Huge variations in student access to teachers and educational materials; some report daily engagement, others report almost none
  • Teachers and early childcare workers facing their own personal issues of childcare, domestic violence, and food insecurity

Employment:

  • Greater demands on career centers
  • Meeting needs of laid-off student workers
  • Meeting needs of undocumented workers w/o access to federal/state rescue packages

Families:

  • Lack of childcare for working parents
  • Need to supply diapers, which are scarce
  • Need support for parents (esp. mothers) homebound with children; need activities, books
  • Childcare needed for emergency, medical workers, and first responders

Food Security:

  • Increased demand at food pantries
  • Access to food an issue for individuals as well as pantries and other distributing agencies
  • Transportation to emergency food sites needed and/or delivery of food to elderly and housebound; even with established food networks, the “last mile” often remains an obstacle
  • Fewer volunteers who provide critical labor at food pantries
  • Loss of revenue for western MA farms impacted by restaurant and college closings
  • Many families unable to provide sufficient food outside of school / free meals, especially on weekends

Health:

  • Increased demand at hospitals and community health centers
  • Increased costs for sanitizing all facilities (shelters, group homes, food pantries etc.)
  • Loss of hospital revenue due to cancellation of elective procedures
  • Hospitals’ creation of new triage areas
  • Increased health check phone calls to the most vulnerable
  • Supplies needed due to increased hospital usage
  • Support needed for telemedicine awareness and education
  • Increased need for services for low wage and undocumented workers
  • Increased salaries for personal caregivers wary of going into homes
  • Implementing social distance in addiction recovery centers without damaging treatment

Housing and Shelter:

  • Shelters at capacity
  • Support for shelter/warming centers for people who are homeless
  • Increased demands for medical attention at shelters
  • Increased need for cleaning and sanitizing of shelters
  • Rental assistance
  • Short-term state-mandated rent deferment poses financial challenges upon expiration
  • Increased demands for counseling around mortgage, foreclosures, bankruptcy issues

Immigrants:

  • Loss of jobs and/or small businesses
  • Getting assistance to undocumented Americans, migrant workers and asylum seekers who remain wary of government help including basic and/or free healthcare
  • Language barriers for non-English/non-Spanish seeking communities; limited access to accurately translated information and resources; unmet need for translation services
  • Multiple generations often share a single residence which puts families at higher health and social distancing risks

Incarcerated Individuals:

  • Increased isolation of incarcerated people, whose programs and visitation have been cut
  • Media reporting 70% of incarcerated people are testing positive when testing is available
  • Increased reports of excessive force / violence against inmates

LGBTQIA Individuals:

  • LGBTQIA youth forced to shelter-in-place in unsupportive and/or hostile home environments
  • On average, 56% of LGBTQIA individuals report being discriminated against by healthcare professionals and 19% report being refused care outright because they were transgender or gender non-conforming.
  • Lack of access to LGBTQIA-minded resources
  • Increased incidents of isolation, depression, suicide and attempted suicide

Mental Health:

  • Significant increases in mental health needs of all citizens, and notably higher needs with isolated youth, seniors, laid off workers, families
  • Meeting/anticipating/planning for widespread trauma
  • Lack of online access to counseling; increased technology costs and lack of equitable access
  • Not enough counselors in region who take MassHealth insurance; limited options for support

Nonprofit stability and infrastructure:

  • Loss of staff and volunteers due to illness or safety concerns
  • Loss of staff due to layoffs / furlough due to financial shortages
  • Loss of revenue; loss of programmatic income, fundraising and individual donations down, contract cancellations, event cancellations, uncertainty in the market
  • Highly specialized professionals cannot be easily rehired in future
  • Conversations about not only securing short-term funding, but growing concerns regarding long term sustainability

Senior Citizens:

  • Senior citizens, especially with other health conditions, are at increased risk for infection and illness
  • Isolation of senior citizens is increasing
  • Senior citizens, especially housebound, facing increased food insecurity
  • Food needs of older people are increasing
  • Lack of transportation to get food, medicine, supplies
  • Lack of volunteers to provide store-to-door services

Recreation:

  • Increased demand for parks, with decreased park staff

Small Businesses:

  • No group gatherings = 100% loss of revenue
  • Closure of existing business and slowing of new businesses
  • Lost wages and revenue
  • Inability to receive government loans due to funding shortage and /or meeting qualifications
  • New businesses unable to demonstrate profit are disqualified

Technology:

  • Household connectivity and access to portable hotspots remain a core issue for both rural and urban marginalized populations; collectively being referred to as “The Growing Digital Divide”
  • Need for computers, internet access for telemedicine; for education of low-income youth; for remote working; for community college students
  • Many homes have 0-1 computers and multiple and children in need of access
  • Free connection services from major corporations often exclude low income individuals and require credit checks
  • While many individuals may have cell phones, they may no longer have access to free internet from local schools and retailers
  • While many individuals have cell phones currently, loss of income may result in an inability to pay bills and lose service entirely

Youth:

  • School and early childcare programs closed until at least July
  • As many as 70% of households reporting shortages of food and other basic needs
  • Loss of jobs/revenue
  • All after school and youth programs cancelled; no support services or social connections
  • Increased learning loss
  • Summer camp and activities in doubt; may not have revenue to run programs
  • Anticipated spikes in child abuse and lack of safe space to report abuse (see also Domestic Violence)
  • LGBTQIA Youth forced to shelter-in-place in unsupportive and / or hostile home environments
  • Children in foster care without access to services; increased trauma
  • Aged out foster youth facing lack of access to cash, resources, housing and most importantly networks to support them

updated: 5/22/2020