At Allegheny Housing Rehabilitation Corp. properties, instead of delivering late fees and eviction notices to residents, they are serving family-sized meals and offering educational assistance to those who are facing economical hardships.
PITTSBURGH, PA, September 17, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ — At Allegheny Housing Rehabilitation Corp. properties, instead of delivering late fees and eviction notices to residents, Lara Washington is serving family-sized meals and offering educational assistance to those who are facing economical hardships.
It’s in these ways, among others, that the property group is providing aid to its residents in need amid the Covid-19 pandemic. For Washington, who serves as the president of AHRCO, it’s also a part of the organization’s original mission of not only providing affordable housing for residents but to also offer assistance to those who call one of its 1,600 apartments throughout the city home.
“We see the Covid-19 crisis as really an attack on our core mission,” Washington said. “This is why we’re here, to make sure our neighborhoods of color are prepared for these types of situations. We’re finding that our neighborhoods are severely at risk, and more so than other neighborhoods so as a landlord we need to take on this extra responsibility to make sure we all stay safe.”
Part of that responsibility, Washington said, is making sure that residents who might be facing food insecurity are being fed.
On March 27, Donna Rivers, who is the manager at AHRCO’s Eva P. Mitchell senior living complex, started preparing meals on her own to give to residents who were in need. By the following week, Washington said the cause had grown to include providing meals for AHRCO’s senior residents at two of its other facilities.
Currently, Washington said AHRCO has delivered 1,413 meals to seniors living in 283 apartments across the three complexes as part of its free weekly distributions. Of that number, 1,170 meals came from Eat’n Park Hospitality Group Inc. which Washington said had agreed to offer a “significant discount” for AHRCO as it purchases hundreds of meals a week from the restaurant group.
Additionally, seniors do not have to request a meal in order to receive one as all are welcome to take one at no cost to them.
“We’re very fortunate,” Washington said. “Every week I call and we come up [with a menu] and [the staff] get just as excited about the meal selection and what we should do this week.”
For AHRCO’s residents, of which a majority earn 50% of the AMI or less, the free meals offer a form of food security at a time when many throughout the country are facing economic hardships. At least 1.6 million Pennsylvanians and 22.4 million Americans nationwide have filed for unemployment benefits since the end of March, an unprecedented spike in jobless claims as nonessential businesses remain closed and others face revenue shortages.
Those figures can be been seen impacting the residents at AHRCO properties as well. In the spirit of continuing to serve its residents, Washington said assistance is being offered to those needing help with filing unemployment claims. Additionally, wellness checks are being conducted via phone calls every week for all AHRCO residents.
Posters and flyers with “eye-catching graphics” are displayed throughout property common areas to inform residents not only of these resources but also on how to stay safe during the pandemic.
“We really want to make sure that our residents are aware of what they can do to combat this virus,” Washington said. “That is why it’s really important for us to get that information out.”
All of this has been made possible by I Dream A World, a nonprofit funded by AHRCO and founded in 2015 to try and bridge the gap between AHRCO’s residents and the resources that are available to them.
“We have really been impacted very deeply, I mean, both physically and economically but also emotionally and I don’t think that’s surprising either that our African American communities in the city are being hit very hard,” Washington said. “It is a role that AHRCO and I Dream A World is happy to play in trying to bridge that gap between resources that are available and people who really, really need it.”
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