SAN FRANCISCO (June 3, 2021) – United Way Bay Area, one of the most respected and highly effective philanthropic organizations fighting poverty in the region, helped over 880,000 individuals facing hunger, housing insecurity, wildfire disaster, and financial instability between July 2020 and June 2021. The organization also distributed $4.8 million to 120+ Bay Area nonprofit organizations as part of COVID-19 relief efforts and helped low-income Bay Area residents secure $60 million of tax refunds.
“We’re grateful that in such a tumultuous year, our Bay Area community came together to help support close to a million neighbors in need with meal distribution, rent relief, financial coaching, and more,” said Kevin Zwick, CEO of United Way Bay Area. “However, with 1 in 4 people living in poverty in the Bay Area, and inflation running rampant with federal stimulus support in the rearview, we know that our work must press forward. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over, and we’re still tackling persistent poverty, racism, and inequities throughout our communities.”
COVID-19, and the resulting economic hardship for many Bay Area residents, was a priority for United Way Bay Area (UWBA) during this period. Through its COVID-19 relief programs, the organization distributed $4.8 million to over 120 Bay Area organizations and provided over 5 million meals to those in need. More than 3,470 individuals received rental or utility assistance through COVID-19 relief programs, and over 6,000 individuals received cash assistance for food, gas, and other bills. Most notably, its Rental Relief Fund provided $3 million in rental assistance to more than 1,300 households through SparkPoint centers and local community partners.
The year also witnessed one of the worst fire seasons on record in California. In response, United Way Bay Area partnered with other local United Way branches to launch the Greater Bay Area and Central Coast Wildfire Relief Fund. UWBA allocated $277,500 to seven community-based organizations in Napa and San Mateo counties that provided food, rental assistance, motel stays, case management, and mental health services to families affected by the wildfires. With these wildfire relief funds, 42 households were assisted with rent, and 502 households were helped with food insecurity.
United Way Bay Area’s 211 service connects residents with health and human services programs in their local community. In its 2021 fiscal year, 211 fielded over 40,000 calls and texts providing information and guidelines related to COVID-19 and 23,000 calls and texts with a housing need. 211 specialists handled over 76,000 total calls or texts to provide a range of support related to housing, shelter, food assistance, and more.
Finally, the Free Tax Help program (formerly known as Earn It! Keep It! Save It!), helped file over 32,000 tax returns which saved participants over $8 million in tax prep fees. This resulted in a total $60,165,000 in tax refunds for participating local families, nearly $26 million of which were from Earned Income Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits. Meanwhile, 8,279 individuals received SparkPoint services, which include help managing credit, increasing income and savings, and decreasing debt, with 83% making progress toward their financial goals.
United Way Bay Area’s FY21 Annual Report, including its contributions to wildfire relief and COVID-19 relief programs, visit the UWBA website.
For more information about UWBA’s programs, or to make a donation, visit https://uwba.org. Residents seeking assistance are encouraged to dial 2-1-1 to be connected to a specialist for personalized assistance or visit 211bayarea.org.