SHREVEPORT, La. - Prompted by the COVID-19 crisis,United Way of Northwest Louisiana has activated the United for NWLA Fund, an emergency response fund used in times of crisis. United Way has allocated $10,000 to start this fund and address both the short and long-term needs of those disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The United for NWLA Fund is donation-driven and will be used to serve ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed) community members in Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, Webster, and Winn Parishes. Typically considered the “working poor,” ALICE community members earn too much to apply for typical government or nonprofit human service benefits but make too little to survive during natural disasters or large-scale public emergency situations, such as the coronavirus crisis.
The number of ALICE households will likely increase exponentially in the wake of COVID-19. As schools and businesses close, even as temporary measures, research suggests ALICE residents will especially face an economic toll leading to job loss, extended sickness, and even homelessness. The most recent ALICE report shows that 53% of Northwest Louisiana struggles to make ends meet day-to-day. Many of these same employees do not have employer-provided health insurance and may not reach out for medical assistance until the situation is dire.
“We know that the government and nonprofits are providing immediate assistance during this challenging time,” says Dr. Bruce Willson, President and CEO of United Way of Northwest Louisiana. “However, we are deeply concerned for the long-term effects of those who already struggle financially, particularly hourly employees and others who don’t have jobs that offer paid sick days or the option to work from home.”
As the needs of these ALICE families evolve, the United for NWLA fund will also evolve to address ALICE’s most urgent, unmet needs. United Way of Northwest Louisiana, Community Foundation of North Louisiana, and many other nonprofits are currently working together to identify the needs of community members in both the short and long-term as a result of COVID-19. Community Foundation of North Louisiana is surveying local nonprofits to determine what the nonprofits most urgently need to support their work in the midst of this crisis. United Way of Northwest Louisiana is in the process of identifying the needs local nonprofits are addressing and the individuals that qualify for their services, in order to identify the current gaps of services and fill those gaps through the United for NWLA fund. “Our community is fortunate to have a strong community foundation focusing on helping nonprofits remain whole in times of crisis. Our entire region will benefit from the complimentary relief provided by the Community Foundation of North Louisiana’s emergency fund for nonprofits and United Way of Northwest Louisiana’s fund to support ALICE,” says LaToria Thomas, Vice President of Resource Development for United Way of Northwest Louisiana.
To support United Way of North Louisiana’s efforts, local nonprofits are asked to complete a Community Service Providers Survey. The responses to this survey will help United Way structure the United for NWLA – Emergency Response Fund to support individuals hardest hit by the current crisis that do not qualify for government and/or nonprofit assistance. These responses will also be used to provide the general public with up-to-date information on the resources that are available when calling 211 for assistance.