As I am sure all of you are aware, we are currently in unprecedented times. In the midst of a lot of chaos and unknowns, we are doing our best to plan for the future and be a support system for families residing in affordable housing. Our first priority right now is ensuring that our residents and staff are safe and have access to the resources that they need in a time where the majority of our residents do not have access to paid leave, childcare, medical care, or adequate food supplies while children are out of school.
As we have been saying for years, our social welfare system and policies surrounding low-income families have always been inadequate and problematic to say the least, and in this time of crisis, those problems are only being exasperated. Families who have been working for low wages had no opportunity to build up savings are also the ones without any access to paid leave or the ability to work at home wondering. SNAP benefits that already do not provide an adequate amount of money for monthly food bills will be even less helpful as children will now need to eat 10 more meals at home that used to be provided by school systems. Not to mention, workers who did not have the luxury of having this past weekend off will also be looking at empty grocery store shelves as they try to get what they can for their families.
This past Friday, 80 of our mothers in Jackson received a check for $1,000 from Springboard To Opportunities as their first payment in the second iteration of The Magnolia Mother’s Trust. It is a relief to know that there are 80 mothers here who can be a little less worried about how they are going to provide for their families’ basic needs in the coming weeks and months. However, we also know that this is not enough. There are thousands of other Springboard families and millions of others nationwide in the same situation, and we cannot ignore the failings of our social policies and systems in this time to keep them safe. It is our deepest hope that when we come through to the other side of this, that we do not just return to “business as usual,” but actually take real, tangible steps to make sure all families always have access to the supports they need.
For now, as an organization, we are choosing to follow CDC guidelines and have all staff work at home until the end of March. All Community Specialists have distributed local resource guides for their communities with food, health, education, and utilities assistance information. In addition, residents have received mobile numbers for staff members and we will continue to provide mass updates to families through our Springboard App, which we have been using as a communication tool with families for the last two years. We are ensuring that even while practicing social distancing, all residents know that they have access and support from Springboard at this time.
Finally, we will continue to live out our Radically, Resident-Driven model making sure that even from a distance, we are listening to our residents and responding to their needs in every way possible. Community Specialists will be calling each resident to hear what they need, and we will be doing all we can to distribute gift cards for groceries and supplies and emergency funds to help families as we are able.
As always, we are deeply appreciative of this community of supporters and partners that care so much about us and our families! We hope that everyone is staying safe and well and taking necessary precautions during this time.