A Year Later, We Can’t Forget
This month marks a year since covid-19 turned the entire world upside down. Like many businesses, a year ago we shut our office doors to staff and in-person visitors in an effort to “flatten the curve.” In response to a world-wide public health crisis, we:
- Canceled in-person meetings and programming
- Began fulfilling emergency maintenance orders only
- Closed leasing offices to walk-in visits and moved all appointments to video or phone
- Put health and safety measures and protocols in place for staff and everyone living at our communities
- Hosted testing events with UVA Health at various communities and are now hosting vaccine clinics.
We also began our Supporting Our Seniors (SOS) program and our Emergency Assistance Fund (EAF).
Supporting Our Seniors
The need for additional support to help our senior community members combat loneliness became clear very quickly. Prior to the pandemic, residents at our senior and multifamily communities were given monthly opportunities to engage with each other and participate in programming. In an effort to supplement this, we began our SOS campaign, asking members of the larger community to write letters or donate items such as snacks, books, word search books and other items that those 55 and up could use.
Emergency Assistance Fund
Our Emergency Assistance Fund was created to give those living at our communities and our staff, the chance to make requests for up to $200 to use as they’d like. To date, we have been able to make the EAF available twice with the help of our supporters.
We learned many lessons as a result of operating during a global pandemic amplified by racial unrest and an election year filled with uncertainty. Number one of those being how fragile the lives we lead really are. Covid-19 brought the inequities many of our clients and residents face everyday to light to a wider audience. Inequities in housing, access to food and resources such as cleaning supplies and inequalities in employment opportunities and education made local and national headlines as home became work spaces and classrooms.
A year after changing our daily operations, not a lot has changed. We are still closed to walk-in visitors and staff has not returned to our Berkmar office, though those at leasing offices at our communities are available by appointment. As the world begins to open up, we still believe it is important to not forget everything that has happened in the last year and continues to be true. This is why we continue to work to increase the amount of affordable housing available. Inequality still runs rampant in housing. It is law. It is part of the housing landscape. Intentionality to change that equates to intentionality to change entire neighborhoods and cities.