Imagine this: You’re a single mom caring for a teenager and a baby while also looking for a job and working on your college degree. When your baby’s daycare closes because of a COVID-19 outbreak, you miss an interview for a much-needed position. Without a job, you can’t pay your rent, and you and your kids may end up on the street in the middle of winter.
That’s the position Gina* found herself in earlier this year. When things turned dire, she came to Community Action Services and Food Bank (CASFB) for assistance—and found it.
Every day, we help people in Utah, Wasatch, and Summit counties get the food their family needs, keep a roof over their heads, and learn skills to improve their lives.
“If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask—there are resources out there,” Gina says. Here’s how we helped Gina and continue to help others like her get their lives back on track.
Gina moved from Connecticut to Utah for school. The 30-year-old mother has a 17-year-old and a seven-month-old, and she’s working on her undergraduate degree in biology. She hopes to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, get into a physician assistant school, and ultimately work for Intermountain Healthcare as a physician assistant and save lives. As the first person in her family to attend college, she wants to be a good example for her children and start a new cycle outside of poverty.
Her plans hit a snag, though, when COVID struck, and she needed financial help to keep a roof over her family’s head. Asking for help had always been difficult for her, and she was nervous to reach out. Once she did, though, her anxiety was resolved. CASFB helped her apply for a grant specifically designed for people in financial hardship because of COVID. The funding covered her January rent, and we helped her secure diapers, formula, and food.
“I’m so grateful that they came through for me and my kids,” she says.
A Shared Experience
Gina isn’t alone. The latest figures from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey estimate that 12.1 million adults aren’t caught up on rent. According to the survey, 13 percent of renters in Utah, or 71,000 people, are behind on rent, and about 10.6 million adults in the US live in a household that’s behind on mortgage payments.
That’s where we come in by connecting people to the services they need to get back on their feet. Between July 14 and December 31 last year, we helped 629 households pay housing payments—either rent or mortgage payments. We have programs for people directly affected by COVID as well as assistance that’s not related to the pandemic. That includes
- rent, mortgage, and utility payment assistance;
- food through one of our food pantries;
- financial education, including one-on-one counseling;
- the Circles program, which teaches life skills and helps people build a support network; and
- much more.
Our mission is to help people like Gina build better lives and strengthen our community through programs that offer emergency assistance and life skills. If you or someone you know has been affected by COVID and needs rent and/or utility assistance, go to rentrelief.utah.gov. If you need other assistance, please call us at (801) 373-8200. You also can contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website.
*Name has been changed