The COVID-19 pandemic will have a long-lasting effect on situational homelessness as people struggle to find work even as the world and the economy works to rebound.
“I do see the homeless situation getting worse because of COVID-19,” said Andrea Brantley, executive director of Family Promise of North Fulton/DeKalb.
The organization works with local congregations to house up to four families at a time. But, even as the COVID-19 pandemic starts to subside, Brantley worries more people could find themselves situationally homeless.
“A lot of us don’t realize that there’s homeless in our communities,” Brantley said. “People have a perception of what homelessness looks like and which communities it is in, or not in, however, that’s not the case. For many families, situational homelessness looks like sleeping in their car or living out of a motel when they can’t afford a permanent place to stay. It’s families within every community that have fallen behind.”
Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the fight against situational homelessness continues. While Family Promise of North Fulton/DeKalb usually rotates families among its congregation partners, the organization has opted to limit the movement of families and their level of interaction with volunteers.
Despite the restrictions, a caseworker still meets with the families to ensure they have what they need. And the organization helped find employment for a single mother enrolled in its program.
“We haven’t missed a beat,” Brantley said. “We continue to empower our families, lift them up and connect them with resources. We continue to do our job the best we can while making adjustments to meet new the safety requirements.”
To date, 25 congregations across metro Atlanta have helped more than 80 families — including 178 children and 85 adults, principally single mothers — find permanent housing.
While COVID-19 has limited in-person volunteering opportunities for the moment, the organization is always looking for new creative partnerships and innovations in the fight against situational homelessness.
“We’re always looking for partners. A partnership doesn’t need to be a financial one,” Brantley said. “We’re continually looking for new ways we can work with members of the community to raise awareness about situational homelessness.”