United Way Miami exhausts relief funds
The United Way of Miami-Dade has exhausted its Miami-Dade Pandemic Assistance Program federal relief funds of $30.96 million, allocating it to more than 59,720 people who were significantly impacted by the pandemic.
Since the launch of the pandemic assistance program in early August, United Way has distributed almost $29 million of Miami-Dade County Cares Act funds to more than 18,500 households.
“There are still a couple of hundred eligible applications that are pending, but as of now, we don’t have any more funds,” said Vanessa Benavides, United Way’s associate vice president. “We don’t want to deny them yet, just in case an opportunity arises and potential funds become available.”
The pandemic assistance program is aimed to help ALICE* (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) individuals and families impacted by the lingering Covid-19 crisis. Relief funds can be used for basic living expenses such as food, utilities, childcare, medical expenses and rental assistance, among others. Depending on household size and income, individuals were eligible for up to $1,000 and families of three or more could receive up to $2,000.
The nonprofit organization had to temporarily pause the application submission process twice, once in August and again in November, to carefully review submissions for proper documentation, any duplications and missing information. Once the review process was completed, application submissions reopened on the organization’s website until all remaining funds were exhausted.
With five out of 10 households in Miami-Dade County living in, or one emergency away from, poverty, the pandemic has exacerbated an already difficult situation for ALICE* individuals and families, United Way officials say.
Half of the community is always struggling even at the best of times, and with this crisis it is dealing with families who never struggled before and are now asking for help, while families who are used to the challenges have their own coping skills and are in survival mode, Ms. Benavides said.
Along with the distribution of federal relief funds, United Way has been providing emergency assistance and relief during the pandemic since mid-March through its Miami Pandemic Response Fund, raising $3.7 million to help individuals, families and small businesses impacted by Covid-19.
“There’s no clear plans in sight with businesses opening and closing. People can’t even plan ahead of time,” Ms. Benavides added. “I think there’s a desperation that is setting in, which is evident with the many calls coming in at our offices. This pandemic is not only impacting people’s physical health but mental as well. We need to stick together as a community and get through this.”