Newsletter: Winter 2020

By December 16, 2020 Newsletter: Winter 2020

2020 Timeline Of Open Doors’ Covid Response

October-November 2020

The LIFT Campaign

As COVID cases began to rise again, the need for collaborative action grew. With funding provided by the CARES Act, Open Doors joined a partnership to enact the LIFT campaign. This initiative has an ambitious goal of locating and establishing permanent housing for 800 households by year-end. Open Doors was selected to act as the lead rental unit locator. In the first 30 days of the LIFT Campaign, Open Doors has already generated commitments from properties for 600 set-aside units.

June 2020

Healthy Hotels Campaign Push for Permanent Housing

The challenge of the pandemic added a new urgency to the fight against homelessness and became a catalyst for a new collaboration.

In June, Open Doors jumped in to help with Atlanta’s Healthy Hotels campaign, an emergency program to shelter homeless Atlantans during the shutdown.  After months of relying on temporary hotel housing, the city made a commitment to find permanent, stable homes for hotel occupants.

The Healthy Hotels campaign was a collaboration between Open Doors and the Atlanta Apartment Association, Hope Atlanta, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Atlanta Housing, Partners for Home, and several Atlanta direct service agencies. This partnership helped find safe, affordable homes for over 200 people in great need of permanent housing.

May 2020

RentBridge Debuts

Open Doors debuted RentBridge, a program designed to provide rent relief for struggling residents in the Open Doors portfolio.  Open Doors seeded RentBridge with $100,000 in emergency funding while our fundraising arm swung into action, raising an additional $250,000 from foundations and major donors.  Atlanta’s philanthropic community stepped up to to meet the goal including: The Community Foundation of Atlanta, The United Way of Greater Atlanta and multiple anonymous donors.  During the early days of the pandemic, Open Doors kept over 100 families housed.

COVID

March and April 2020

COVID Arrives

On March 2nd, Georgia recorded the first case of COVID-19.  One month later, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp mandated a state-wide shutdown.  The business and school closings created immediate hardships for those earning lower incomes and financially living month to month.

Open Doors’ Extra Push During the COVID Crisis Will Lead to a Record Year

1200

People who can enjoy the holidays in warmth and safety, thanks to Open Doors and our partners.

350

Properties that have stepped up to help our city’s most vulnerable during a time of great need.

1200

People who can enjoy the holidays in warmth and safety, thanks to Open Doors and our partners.

Beyond the Numbers . . .

What people are saying about their experience with Open Doors’ RentBridge program

Homeless-Man-Help

RentBridge Prevents Cyclical Homelessness

Thomas Thompson
Housing Coordinator, Decatur Cooperative Ministry

During normal years, Decatur Cooperative Ministry (DCM) regularly refers clients to Open Doors. Many of the families previously housed through the partnership between DCM and Open Doors had been thriving in their new homes. With COVID-19 and the subsequent economic downturn many of those families lost income and their jobs.

For DCM and their clients, Open Doors’ RentBridge program offered a badly needed solution. “When we heard about RentBridge, we were like, ‘Wow! This is perfect,’” Thomas Thompson, Housing coordinator for DCM explained. He estimates that DCM has been able to prevent 15-20 of their families from eviction during the pandemic.

“Without RentBridge we would have a lot of our families become homeless again, which would be really traumatic especially for the children.”

Open Doors’ Property Partners Find Rare Rent Relief for Residents in Crisis

Kristi Row
Assistant Manager, Vesta Adams Park Apartments

Vesta Adams Park Apartments were housing seven Open Doors residents in spring 2020. Since COVID-19, the apartment community has expanded its commitment by adding 13 1-bedroom units to the Open Doors portfolio. Assistant Manager Krista Row explains how the RentBridge program allowed her to offer help to residents in crisis:

“The COVID Pandemic has been extremely hard. My main job as assistant manager is collecting rent. It’s been so difficult lately, because people don’t really have it. We had a resident who had just had a baby and lost her job with the transit system. It was nothing she did wrong — MARTA cut some of its routes when ridership fell off. Our resident was a person who had always paid her rent. She was so desperate. When the RentBridge program with Open Doors came through with funding for her, it was just a breath of fresh air that someone could help.”

Volunteer in the Spotlight:

Marc Lefar Is the Inaugural Recipient of Open Doors’ “Threshold Award”

Marc Lefar has been honored as the inaugural recipient of The Threshold Award, Open Doors highest honor for volunteer service. Lefar, a 30-year veteran in consumer products, technology and wireless services innovation, has devoted his time, strategic talent and boundless energy to lead Open Doors.
As a member of the Open Doors Executive Committee, he envisioned a way to disrupt the hard process of finding housing for people experiencing homelessness. Lefar recruited teams of volunteer software engineers and product experts to make the vision a reality. The resulting Property Navigator App serves the needs of caseworkers serving the homeless and of apartment owners and managers needing to fill vacant units.
Lefar’s contribution has been magnified by hundreds of volunteer hours from people at RentPath, where Lefar serves as president and CEO. “I’ve committed to using my personal and professional resources in the urgent fight to make homelessness brief and rare,” he explained.