Both the pandemic and higher prices have increased reliance on nonprofits. The Atlanta Community Food Bank’s (ACFB) President and CEO Kyle Waide said, “The current challenges that we’re all experiencing with higher prices, for gas, for food, for supplies, are causing demand for food assistance to increase and it’s making it more expensive and more challenging for the food bank to respond to that demand.” With high inflation and increasing demand for their services, ACFB’s food costs are 30% higher this year than last year.
Atlanta recently conducted its annual “Point in Time” count to evaluate the number of homeless individuals in the city. The count was canceled in 2021 due to the pandemic, but 3,240 people were counted in the city of Atlanta in 2020. The official numbers for the 2022 count will not be released until later in the year, but recent trends have shown that the pandemic may have worsened homelessness. Recently, more people have been sleeping outdoors rather than in shelters. In Atlanta, there are 2,800 beds available in shelters, but many individuals have turned down a bed due to COVID-19 concerns. Another new trend has emerged: there are more individuals that are newly homeless than ever before. There is some good news, though. As many as 700 previously homeless individuals were able to secure stable housing with pandemic-relief funding.
Takeaway: Reducing homelessness in the wake of the pandemic will rely on improved housing aid and policy as well as creative sheltering options to safely house individuals.
This year’s Metro Atlanta Speaks (MAS) survey, the largest public opinion survey in the Atlanta region, showed that 23.9% of respondents reported receiving food from a food bank compared to 17.9% of respondents in 2020. United Way’s 2-1-1 call data, however, found that fewer people were calling to request information about food pantries in 2021 than at the start of the pandemic. Calls about food pantries peaked in March 2020 at 2,255 calls. Comparatively, food pantry calls averaged around 700 calls per month in 2021. This could indicate that many families were concerned about needing to use a food pantry after the initial shock of the pandemic, but actually continued to need assistance over one year into the pandemic.
Takeaway: The increased use of food banks in 2021 indicates the need for a more aggressive approach to addressing income inequality.
The racial gap in liquid assets makes Black and Hispanic families more vulnerable to income fluctuations. When faced with a job loss, Black and Hispanic families have to cut spending more dramatically than White families. Upon the arrival of a tax refund or other stimulus, Black and Hispanic families have to spend it more quickly. Listen to the MAX Workforce Solutions presentation or read the full report (JPMorgan Chase Institute)
“The food banks are responding to an unrelenting 50% increase in demand for food,” said Danah Craft, executive director of the Georgia Food Bank Association, which works with food banks around the state. “And it has grown in the last 60 days.” About 40% of the people coming for help now have never had to look for support before, she said. (WABE)
Under the new presidency, refugee resettlement is expected to surge—from 15,000 to as much as 125,000 globally. Resettlement agencies in Atlanta are collaborating to best serve their clients while understanding and meeting demand for employment, housing, health, and other services. [link] (WABE)
A large share of low-income clients are parents — especially moms — with school-age kids having incredible difficulty finding jobs that allow working from home. Unclear return-to-school plans and timing add to job search barriers. (Family Advancement Ministries)
Among immigrant-serving organizations, civic engagement focuses during and beyond the pandemic include: (1) supporting the wellbeing of community leaders and volunteer-led organizations, (2) strengthening community networks for mutual aid, (3) civic education, including redistricting, (4) ensuring comprehensive and standard language access policies for all Georgia districts. (LCF)
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Spending monthly what they used to spend annually on purchasing food (12x increase in demand). Using 1/3 typical number of volunteers. (Intown Collaborative Ministries)
“The rapid adoption of remote work and automation could accelerate inequalities in place for decades. Economists say the resulting ‘K’ shaped recovery will be good for professionals—and bad for everyone else.” [article] (Wall Street Journal)