Local United Ways and UETHDA partner for rent and utility assistance

Published 12:27 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2020

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United Ways in Northeast Tennessee will allocate $61,000 of their Regional Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia COVID-19 Relief Fund to the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Authority’s (UETHDA) Community Services program. UETHDA’s community services have long helped households in Northeast Tennessee to offset housing, rental, utility payments, and other basic needs during challenging times. The grant is available thanks to several major gifts, including the Eastman Foundation, First Horizon Bank, TEC Industrial, and other individual contributors.
As the six participating United Ways (which include United Way of Bristol TN/VA, United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County, United Way of Greater Kingsport, United Way of Greene County, United Way of Hawkins County, and United Way of Washington County, Tenn.) state, the purpose of their regional fund is to “focus response efforts on vulnerable populations, including children, families, and the ALICE population.” Kristan Spear, CEO and President of United Way of Washington County, added, “ALICE is an acronym coined by United Way that represents all who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This demographic is made of men, women, and families who work hard and earn more than the official Federal Poverty Level, but less than the basic cost of living, and describes 47% of NortheastTennesseans.”
“ALICE is vulnerable to just one emergency – one health emergency, one car repair, one harsh storm, or, in this case, one global pandemic such as COVID-19. ALICE workers hold jobs that are essential to our day-to-day quality of life, such as caring for and educating our children, working in skilled nursing and critical medical field jobs, maintaining our infrastructure, making sure we have food on the shelves in our local grocery store, and repairing our cars. The value provided by frontline ALICE workers is immeasurable,” said Wendy Peay, Executive Director of the United Way of Greene County, and Board of Directors Chair for the United Ways of Tennessee.
“We know that community-wide recovering from COVID-19 is both a physical battle and an economic one. United Ways in Northeast Tennessee understand the critical need to do what we can to provide support and long-term solutions to help ALICE move along a path to financial stability. Now, for many, an emergency has occurred, and they just need some temporary help to get back on their feet. We are glad to partner with UETHDA, who already has the infrastructure in place to assist with payments for basic needs such as rent, utilities, reconnecting fees, and more,” said Crystal Carter, Executive Director of United Way of Elizabethton/Carter/Johnson counties. “Our strategy for eradicating poverty in our region includes offering case management and follow-up to ensure clients reach self-sufficiency,” Tim Jaynes, Executive Director of UETHDA added.
Kristan Spear, President and CEO of the United Way of Washington County concluded, “ALICE is familiar to us because most of us have struggled at one point or another during our own financial journeys. Perhaps this was when we were fresh out of school or when we added children to our families. We may have been ALICE as the result of a job loss or fewer hours at work. It is stressful to not know how you will pay your bills and trying to figure out what is more essential to survival for that particular day or week. United Way is making a statement to ALICE – we know you, we see you, we understand your struggle. We care about you, and we will not give up until you are able to achieve financial stability.”
The United Ways in Northeast Tennessee and UETHDA plan to make dollars available beginning Monday, May 18. Those interested in applying for housing, rent, or utility assistance may do so by calling 423-246-6180 or visiting www.uethda.org. Anyone affected by COVID-19 is encouraged to apply for assistance.

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