CTI Responds to the Communities
During this difficult time, CTI staff have stepped up to the plate to meet the various needs of the residents in our affordable housing communities. A significant number of our residents on multi-family properties are experiencing economic and health crises as a result of the COVID-19 virus. Children are no longer in school, which means they do not have access to the resources necessary for them to thrive. The children need enrichment activities, emotional support, and many of them even need something as simple as their next meal.
Parents are finding themselves in dual roles of parent as well as educator. In some cases, families have been directly impacted by the disease, testing positive for the virus and finding themselves unable to leave their homes to work or buy food. A number of residents have been hospitalized due to complications from the virus.
On senior properties there seems to be a much more stable environment. Residents have been able to practice successful social distancing and get most of their needs met through personal resources or family assistance. But this does not mean that they are exempt from the hardships caused by the COVID-19 virus. Many family members have stopped visiting their senior-age relatives in order to prevent exposure to the virus; while this has been extremely helpful in ensuring their physical health, many seniors are now grappling with isolation and reported depression.
CTI Multi-Family Communities
Recently we conducted a survey of residents living in Residential One/AHD Family properties – a total of 1,005 families in Langley Park/Hyattsville area were interviewed.
Of this group, many immigrant families are ineligible for the stimulus funding that most Americans have received, public assistance, or other state/federal benefits for food or housing. Many families are finding it difficult to access food giveaways due to lack of PPE and transportation to food distribution programs, which are held in the southern part of Prince George’s County, or in areas not accessible by public transportation.
The increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Langley Park/Hyattsville community and lack of PPE and testing is causing families to be fearful of leaving their homes and venturing out to find resources. We expect these numbers to increase as testing becomes more available to the community. Our review of resources available in these communities shows a lack of food, healthcare, rent assistance, and educational resources.
In other areas, we are seeing families who are experiencing isolation and depression as a result of the stay-at-home orders. With few exceptions, families are requesting information on food resources, rent assistance, and healthcare access. Those with school-age children are requesting assistance with securing computers and internet access so that they may complete their assignments and continue their education.
CTI Staff and volunteers are working with local governments in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia to obtain up-to-date information for families and to disseminate it through managers, e-mail, and one-on-one phone calls to residents.
This increased contact between CTI staff, volunteers and our residents has been well-received, with many residents expressing appreciation for our outreach. Many residents call on staff after the initial phone contact to ask for other services or more new information on unemployment, nutrition and food programs, assistance with educational services for their children, and even personal issues that they might have identified in themselves.
Multi-family residents have reported the following:
• More than 40% of households have been impacted by loss of work as a result of the virus.
• More than 30% of the families are reporting that they do not have enough food nor the resources to obtain what they need to feed their families.
• More than 30% of our families do not have access to the internet, making it difficult – if not impossible – for children to complete school assignments.
• Families are reporting an inability to purchase food, pay rent, and secure the necessary basics for day-to-day life.
• A number of residents have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and are quarantined in their apartments, or are receiving medical care in local hospitals.
Most report that they were unaware of the services available to them, and are pleased that CTI staff is here to help them.
CTI Senior Communities
Many of our Senior Citizens in the eight independent living senior housing communities we serve, as well as those seniors living in our multi-family communities, are experiencing isolation and loneliness. For those who relied on public transportation for shopping or other outings, there has been a significant reduction in access due to termination of bus routes, canceled Uber and Lift programs, and reduction in transportation for seniors and the disabled.
We have been able to secure senior meals at lunchtime on weekdays through partnerships with local governments, World Central Kitchen, and other community partners. Our staff members are providing virtual and hands-on activities to help the seniors deal with their isolation. We have prepared gift bags for them as well in an effort to lift their spirits and improve overall morale.
In our senior communities we have seen fewer incidences of COVID-19 cases with total numbers combined for 750 households remaining below ten (10); this is based on resident reporting, not on testing data. This total is attributed to the lack of testing available to residents, or to the excellent procedures that managers are taking to maintain social distancing between residents, restrict visitors, and apply other recommended safeguards. In Prince George’s County we are collaborating with the county on increasing testing opportunities.
Senior residents report the following:
• Seniors are maintaining contact with their medical providers for guidance on health issues and staying safe.Only one property reports very low contact with medical providers.
• More than 70% of residents in Maryland report needing thermometers.These are difficult to secure at this time due to nationwide demand.
• Most residents are reporting that they are in good health at this time.
• Approximately 15% of residents report needing face masks.
We have sent masks as needed to those properties, or worked with local agencies to secure them for seniors.
• 28% of our residents do not have internet access. Only about 50% have computers or cell phones that can access the internet.
• Food insecurity among seniors is low, with only about 4% reporting need for food assistance. Most places are receiving meals from senior nutrition programs.
How We Are Working With Residents and Managers
• CTI Staff have developed a questionnaire to assess household needs, and are working with property managers to contact all residents living on our properties.
• Working with a number of nonprofit, city, county, and state agencies, we have identified limited resources to address immediate and emergent needs. Where available, we have gathered email addresses to allow us to provide up-to-date information to residents. This is updated weekly.
• We have created a list of local food distribution sites and have made this information available to our residents through direct contact from our CTI staff and volunteers.
• We are meeting with local government representatives advocating for our residents and encouraging resource development in the underserved areas.
• Through our partnership with Camp Fire, we have created online social emotional support activities and recreational activities for families to help parents engage their children in positive activities to help them continue to thrive.
• In collaboration with Latin America Youth Centers, we have developed limited emergency food resources for our COVID-19 positive families.
• At our sites in Langley Park, we are working with St. Camillus, the Catholic Community of Langley Park, Prince George’s and Montgomery County Public Schools, and Adventist Services to provide out-of-school meals to children.
• We are working to expand meals in Langley Park, Riverdale, and Hyattsville by working with local partners and World Central Kitchen to provide “Grab-and-Go” meals at a number of locations.