Our regional centers in Seattle, Renton, and Everett remained open, with limitations around on-site staff, visitors, and volunteers. We continued to serve women experiencing homelessness at Angeline’s Day Center seven days a week, with reduced capacity. We’ve connected residents in YWCA’s 900+ housing units with food and resources so they can care for their families and shelter safely.
Last year, we focused on meeting the urgent and emergent needs of women and BIPOC families. We provided rent relief to keep people housed, helped families get online and navigate services, and connected members of our community with critical health resources. Some examples of our response in 2020:
- Partnered with University of Washington Medicine to bring COVID-19 mobile testing units to YWCA Opportunity Place and Seneca and provided free testing for residents and community members in downtown Seattle.
- Worked with Comcast Washington to provide three years of free Wi-Fi access for residents and visitors at YWCA’s Passage Point, The Willows, Greenbridge Learning Center, and Somerset Village Apartments.
- Shifted services at the Central Area Food Bank with the help of volunteers, who deliver food boxes for more than 200 families in Seattle each week, and built a free-standing food pantry that community residents can access anytime they need.
- Launched Work$Ready, a new job readiness training program taught entirely online, to assist the rapidly growing number of workers who have lost jobs or reduced wages as a result of COVID-19.
Now, we’ve started to shift from crisis response to crisis management. More than a year after the start of this pandemic, the disparate impact of COVID-19 on women and BIPOC communities is clear.
- COVID-19 has created an economic “she-cession” that will only widen the racial and gender wage gap, with recent job losses falling disproportionately on BIPOC women.
- BIPOC communities that are more likely to test positive for COVID-19 are under-vaccinated. 32% of people in Washington who tested positive for coronavirus were Hispanic, yet only 5% of people who received an initial dose were Hispanic. 48% of the state’s cases have been white patients, yet 67% of people who received their initial doses were white.
- A recent survey found that the majority of YWCA program participants experienced a job loss or reduced wages due to COVID-19. Food insecurity, loss of health insurance, loss of housing, and lack of internet access were other commonly reported issues.
- When the eviction moratorium ends, we expect to see a spike in housing instability and sharp increase in demand for all of YWCA’s services if state leaders do not provide rent relief assistance.
There is no other organization with YWCA’s length of service, track record, holistic approach, and explicit focus on both racial and gender equity in the region.
In the future, we’ll keep working together to build systems that uplift, value, and serve BIPOC women in King and Snohomish counties. Help us continue this work by making a gift today.
Annalee Schafranek is the Marketing & Editorial Director at YWCA. She contributes agency news, press releases, and media coverage to the website. Annalee’s educational and professional experience has always focused on the place where gender equity and media meet.
We share the stories of our program participants, programs, and staff, as well as news about the agency and what’s happening in our King and Snohomish community.