VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — From education, to retail, to the workplace, life as we knew it came to a screeching halt on March 13. Since then, calls have been flooding the United Way of South Hampton Roads hotline.
“We have increased our support for the hotline five times since [the onset of pandemic] because we were reaching volume capacity,” said President and CEO Michele Anderson.
In an effort to get ahead of a potential humanitarian disaster, the City of Virginia Beach is erecting a brigade of services called the Pandemic Relief Partnership. It’s an $8-million lifeline for an estimated 18,000 Virginia Beach residents who are unemployed, behind on their rent or mortgage or they are struggling just to put food on the table.
“We have people calling in tears, people calling from their bedrooms because they don’t want their children to see them in an emotional state… There is no shame in reaching out… Go to the website and your privacy is maintained and you can get the support that you need,” said Anderson.
The funds, made available by the CARES Act, will be used to replenish the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore and provide refrigeration for perishable items at food distribution sites.
“It’s really important that people have fresh fruits and vegetables and dairy,” said Anderson.
The Hampton Roads Workforce Council will support workforce development for the unemployed and the nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Hampton Roads will provide $10,000 grants for small businesses with special attention for women- and minority-owned businesses.
The United Way will help Virginia residents who are struggling to pay their rent or mortgage. The City of Virginia Beach estimates 13,500 households are struggling to make ends meet and more than 18,000 residents are unemployed.
“Our goal is to keep people whole. So, we want them to stay in their homes and take their medications so that when the pandemic is over, our community is poised to rise above and come back strong,” said Anderson.