Melville Trust’s Response to COVID-19

by Susan Thomas April 21, 2020

Dear friends,

I hope this note finds you healthy and managing as best as possible during this incredibly challenging and uncertain time.

As the world grapples with the many new realities of life during this COVID-19 crisis, all of us at the Melville Trust are especially concerned about the individuals, families and communities most impacted – the sick, frontline healthcare workers, and people already living with enormous barriers to health, housing and financial stability.

Like you, we are deeply worried for those experiencing homelessness, and the high risk of infection and sickness they face on the street, in crowded shelters, or in encampments. The COVID-19 pandemic makes it abundantly clear that safe, stable and decent housing is a public health issue and, ultimately, a life or death issue for far too many of our neighbors.

The Trust has always invested in addressing the underlying systems that cause homelessness, and in times of unprecedented challenge we believe it’s important for us to stay the course and remain focused.

Recovering from this pandemic – for people experiencing homelessness and for those on the verge – will require an even greater emphasis on supports and long-term solutions. Rental assistance, eviction and foreclosure prevention, emergency financial assistance and other income supports are all ways to bolster and strengthen the most vulnerable among us.

This crisis also highlights the precarious financial realities facing so many Americans. We know the same is true for many organizations that are working tirelessly to meet dramatically growing needs created by the pandemic, while also facing loss of funding, strains on staff and challenging new work conditions. And it means doing everything we can to support our grantee partners.

To that end I want to share a few things we have done at the Trust in response to this crisis:

•    Melville staff have been reaching out to our grantee partners to hear about challenges and urgent concerns and to help strategize where we can.

•    We have redirected $100,000 toward COVID-19 emergency response across Connecticut.

•    We streamlined our grant application process to make grant administration as easy as possible for applicants.

•    We provided grantee partners flexibility to convert their project funding to general operating support if helpful for them in this crisis. We have offered small advances to grantee renewals, if needed.

•    We signed the Council on Foundation’s Call to Action for Foundations during COVID-19 and are urging other funders to make similar changes in support of grant partners.

With deep loss comes the opportunity for reflection and realignment. With transition comes the prospect of reimagination. And with crisis comes the chance to dig down deep and remember why we do this work. Ensuring everyone has a safe and stable place to live, is healthy and supported, and has the income to sustain themselves has been and continues to be at the core of who we are and what we do. We invite you to let us know what else we could be doing or share specific challenges your organization is facing.

In the meantime, and on behalf of the Board and staff of the Melville Trust, take good care.

With gratitude,

Susan K. Thomas
President

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