When the order to shelter in place was announced, Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation resident Sheila took it seriously. As a formerly homeless senior with chronic health issues that affect her immunity, she is particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus.
But after several days without leaving her studio apartment, she became concerned she would run out of food.
When Wakeland dropped a bag of fresh fruits and vegetables, canned soup and other essential groceries on her doorstep, Sheila was greatly relieved – and thankful. Sheila is one of many residents who overall received more than 100,000 pounds of food from Wakeland since the pandemic started thanks to its partnership with the San Diego Food Bank.
Wakeland, which received grant funding through the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund, is a nonprofit organization that has been providing affordable housing in California for more than two decades. Having developed thousands of affordable homes across the state, its team is committed to providing cost-efficient housing communities with critical on-site programs and services for residents.
At a 51-unit community in downtown San Diego dedicated to San Diegans who have experienced homelessness, Wakeland residents are supported by case managers from partner providers who connect them to services tailored to their unique needs, including behavioral health support and care; care coordination; educational, health and wellness, and skill-building classes; and peer support.
When the pandemic struck, Wakeland quickly expanded its efforts to support the many low-income families, seniors and veterans living in its buildings.
“COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted many of the communities we serve,” shared Rebecca Louie, Vice President and COO at Wakeland. “These are individuals who were already living on the edge and have already been through so much. Many of our residents now face job losses and economic insecurity or are unable to safely leave their homes due to age or disability.”
Since the coronavirus crisis started, Wakeland has been working to fulfill the needs of low-income residents, including seniors with health issues like Sheila. Staff call every resident on a regular basis to check in on them and make sure their basic needs are met.
“Words cannot express how grateful I am for this caring and thoughtful gesture,” Sheila shared. “I am 68 years old, with a fragile immunity, and due to the concerns of contracting COVID-19, I have not left my apartment in four days, let alone gone to a grocery store!”
Now, as the pandemic continues, so does the need for assistance for Wakeland and numerous nonprofits serving low-income families across San Diego County.
According to the County of San Diego, there are still hundreds of thousands of San Diegans who are out of work and rely on nonprofit support for basic needs and financial assistance, which is why philanthropy is so important right now.
Thanks to contributions from individuals, families and businesses, the COVID-19 Community Response Fund is able to provide rapid response grants and financial support to address those needs.