Between March 20 – 25, HSC conducted a survey of 69 human services providers in Hamilton County. The results show that the COVID-19 pandemic is already having significant impacts on the financial stability of these nonprofits and their ability to delivery critical services to residents. The organizations who participated in our survey provide a wide variety of services to our community, as represented in the table below. These services are critical to the well-being of our community and must be preserved if we are to weather this storm and prepare for the rebuilding process to follow.
COVID-19 has greatly expanded the need for charitable organizations to provide additional services at a time when contributions and other sources of revenue are projected to plummet due to the economic downturn and social distancing measures.
Financial Impacts: Organizations are already experiencing significant revenue losses and these losses are projected to continue for at least the next 60 days. Human services providers rely on a combination of private contributions, public and private grants, and service fees for their operations. If these losses continue without substantial financial assistance, organizations will have difficulty paying staff and other debts and may ultimately be forced to reduce services. It is too early to tell whether the economic stimulus bill approved by Congress last week will be enough given the enormous challenges these providers are facing.
Operating Impacts: A majority of organizations in the survey have been unable to deliver their services due to lack of staffing and/or social distancing measures. Some staff are not able to come to work because their childcare provider has closed. Lack of volunteers and an inability to obtain food or supplies, including PPE and cleaning supplies, is also affecting delivery of services.
Service Delivery Impacts:
• Food pantries and organizations that provide meals for seniors and other vulnerable populations are seeing a dramatic increase in need and are concerned they will not be able to meet demand due to lack of funding, staff and/or volunteers.
• Some organizations that provide in-home medical care or in-person support for domestic violence victims are unable to deliver their services because they do not have appropriate protective gear for their staff.
• Organizations that provide workforce training are having difficulty because clients do not have access to computers, software, smartphones or internet service.
• Those who provide shelter for people experiencing homelessness, addiction treatment or behavioral care services are concerned about keeping their staff and clients healthy while they are in their facilities.
Potential Impacts on Community:
• Increased need for mental health services due to stress and isolation.
Seniors, people with developmental disabilities and residents with mental illness or addiction are especially challenged.
• Staffing shortages in the home health care sector may threaten the safety of seniors and people with disabilities.
• Workers who lack access to childcare due to recent closures may lose their jobs.
• The number of domestic violence victims is likely to increase. Violence including sexual assault is likely to increase due to isolation combined with increased stress in households.
• Potential for increase in homelessness in the year ahead due to lack of employment.
• Clients may not be able to pay delayed utility bills and rents after the moratorium on evictions is lifted.
• Many childcare programs will go out of business and not recover.
• Children will likely fall behind in their academics.
We will continue to monitor service impacts and other challenges of our human services sector over the next several weeks and keep our elected officials and other community leaders updated.