The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic presents deep challenges across society – including those who work to address homelessness.
In December, Paul Hamann, President and CEO of The Night Ministry, sent a message to The Night Ministry’s Board noting the seriousness of the situation. “For nearly two years, direct service organizations have continued to provide life-saving services to the most vulnerable in our city, and this sector is not immune to the multiple pressures of ongoing pandemic, staffing shortages, burnout and fatigue,” he wrote. In addition, agencies continue to face unusual expenses related to the pandemic, such as the cost of PPE.
In response, All Chicago is partnering with Chicago Funders Together to End Homelessness (CFTEH) to reactivate the Chicago COVID-19 Homeless System Agency Emergency Fund. In 2020, this fund provided emergency assistance to All Chicago’s partner agencies, focused on immediate and unanticipated needs during the early stages of the pandemic.
The effort was sparked by Hamann’s message, which was circulated to a variety of organizations and people. Northern Trust responded with the idea of reactivating the Agency Emergency Fund. The Chicago-based financial firm committed to funding a new round of grants to support homeless system agencies and reached out to other potential funders. In a matter of weeks, CFTEH mobilized more than $850,000 in funds, from donors including the Cuore e Mani Foundation, the Waterton Philanthropic Fund, Denis Pierce, the Pierce Family Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, The Owens Foundation, the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.
The reactivated fund, managed by All Chicago, will distribute grants ranging between $10,000 to $15,000. Flexible funding can support costs related to temporary housing, outreach, transportation, food, supplies, facility modification or expansion, technology, staffing, or other demonstrated costs related to the pandemic.