By John Hayden
“We realized that our patients were going to be in serious trouble as soon as we saw business across South Florida and the nation close at the beginning of the pandemic in March (of 2020).” The Covid crisis hit fast and hit hard. Care Resource is known for helping financially struggling people get the healthcare they need, but over the past year, they saw another need take priority overnight: housing. Claire Duleba is the Development Associate for Care Resource, and tells OutClique they knew the situation for many patients was about to go from bad to worse. “We realized very quickly that there was a housing emergency on our hands, and that we needed to act fast to help our patients stay in their homes during the pandemic.”
Claire and her team went into overdrive and created the Emergency Assistance Fund, with the goal of making sure anyone who came to them would get help as soon as possible. With all the other services they offer, including primary medical care, behavioral health services, dental, and STI testing, they could have easily left dealing with housing emergencies to others. But Claire believes healthcare and housing go hand in hand. “Having safe and stable housing impacts every aspect of a person’s life. A patient who faces housing instability is more likely to have poor physical and mental health than those with a safe and stable home.” Claire knows the pandemic puts their clients in more danger. “ Patients who don’t have permanent addresses or who move often easily fall out of care and have difficulties receiving regular checkups or communicating with their physician. It can be harder to regularly take or access vital prescriptions, and chronic anxiety due to the stress of housing instability can manifest itself physically, causing further health issues.”
The people who Care Resource helps are people often left behind by the system even in the best of times. 87% live at or below 200% of the poverty line, and two-thirds don’t have health insurance or Medicaid.
The U.S. tourism industry has lost more than $100 billion in the past year and South Florida workers are feeling it the hardest. Many people in the industry often have to cover their own insurance in addition to rent and other necessities. Care Resource expanding its aid has helped a lot of people, but even as vaccines make it seem like the crisis is coming to an end, Claire warns that for their clients, things could get worse. “The crisis is not over. Even as we start getting vaccinated and our country starts reopening, we anticipate a huge wave of evictions.” To help keep the aid flowing, Care Resource made the Emergency Assistance Fund a focus for donors. Every dollar donated goes directly to the fund, and people can contribute at www.EmergencyFund.CareResource.org.