The State of Families in Greater NashuaA letter from CEO Maryse Wirbal
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in Greater Nashua. It changed the way we work, go to school, shop, and even how we vote.
But for many of the families we serve at the Front Door Agency, the realities of the pandemic and accompanying economic fallout have been devastating.
Despite the challenges we faced in 2020, the Front Door Agency is committed to serving Greater Nashua during this uncertain time. Below is an update on trends we’re seeing within our community, and how we’re helping families avoid homelessness and remain self-sufficient:
- People who were already struggling to make ends meet when the pandemic hit have been impacted the hardest, many of whom are essential workers or employed in the hospitality and restaurant industries. On top of overcoming the challenges we all face, like balancing remote learning with work, these families are wondering how they’re going to catch up on rent, keep up with their utility bills, and put food on the table.
- We currently receive about 30 requests per month for homelessness prevention. This isn’t surprising considering that, according to a recent Marketplace-Edison Research Poll, 47% of Americans would find it either somewhat or very difficult to pay for an unexpected expense of $250. And one-third of Americans have less income now than before the pandemic. The families that receive assistance through our Housing Stability Program received unemployment benefits, used up their savings, and are now out of options. Last year, with your support, we provided more than $213,000 in housing-related financial assistance to help these families avoid eviction and keep up with their utility bills. 30% of the people in these households were under the age of 14 years.
- We are seeing a significant increase in the number of single mothers and children inquiring about our Transformational Housing Program, which would help them avoid homelessness and work from crisis to self-sufficiency. For the single mothers and children already in the Program, we made changes to support them as they rebuild their lives through the current pandemic. Families living in the Norwell Home (a congregate living environment on Concord Street) moved into our independent, affordable housing units in Nashua to aid in social distancing. We began offering case management and other supportive services virtually to our clients and our case managers remain flexible and determined to meet client needs. Since most of the mothers in the Program work in essential service industries and have school-aged children, we partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua to provide a safe, structured environment for children to participate in remote learning.
- Last month, we expanded our affordable housing inventory with the purchase of a two-family property in Nashua.
- To ensure the comfort and safety of families living in our Norwell Home during the current pandemic and beyond, the Agency was awarded a series of grants to make significant renovations and upgrades to the facility. Click here to read more.
- We received tax credits through the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority to explore renovations at our main office. These renovations will provide opportunities for Agency growth, and will aid in social distancing to ensure the safety of our Housing Advocates and the clients they meet with. We are so thankful to the businesses that purchased these tax credits: Broad Street Planning, Microdesk, Schroeder Construction, and Stanley Elevator.
- This holiday season, you helped us provide toys, warm clothing and food to nearly 500 local children in need. We implemented new guidelines during gift drop-off and pick-up to aid in social distancing and are overwhelmed by the generosity of individuals, organizations, and businesses that contributed this year.
- Many of our staff members have adjusted their schedules to accommodate remote learning for their own children while remaining available to provide critical services to those in our community that need it.
- To ensure safe access to all our Programs, we created online applications and implemented a health screening process for office visitors so that those without access to technology can still receive assistance from our case managers.
Our mission to fight homelessness in Greater Nashua depends on support from so many in our community, including individual donors, Corporate Partners, and the United Way of Greater Nashua. I cannot thank you enough for your generosity. Please know that your support has an immediate impact on local families in need.
As 2021 unfolds, I am hopeful it will bring more positivity to our lives, including vaccines to help end the pandemic, a vibrant economy, and an end to the political divide and social injustice we have experienced. Until then, I encourage everyone to remain safe and vigilant. Wear your mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and stay home as much as possible.
On behalf of the Front Door Agency staff, our Board of Directors, volunteers, and the clients we serve, I’d like to wish you a safe, healthy New Year!
Maryse Wirbal, CEO