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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Yolo County and partners help unemployed individuals, struggling nonprofits as economic crisis continues

Technical assistance, advice provided to those who are unemployed, cash grants available for essential nonprofits

In the wake of the economic fallout caused by COVID-19, Yolo County and its partners have stepped up to provide financial resources to struggling individuals and nonprofits. 

The Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency created an advice hotline for people financially strained during the crisis. Executive Director of the Workforce Innovation Board Elaine Lytle described how hotline operators connect callers with unemployment benefits and other government programs. 

“We have started a hotline where we have staff manning the phone lines,” Lytle said. “It’s for individuals calling for information about unemployment, and then also for any other resources. We want to make sure they’re getting other resources that they may need, such as Medi-Cal, CalFresh and CalWORKS.”

Medi-Cal is California’s medical insurance program serving low-income individuals, and CalFresh provides nutritious foods and financial means to buy food  to low-income individuals and families. CalWORKs gives “cash aid and services to eligible needy Californian families,” according to its website

Data collected by the California Employment Development Department records that Yolo County Unemployment Insurance claims rose from 112 on Jan. 4, 2020 to 3,014 on April 4, 2020. The unemployment rate in Yolo County is 5.9% as of April 17. 

Confronted with these numbers, Lytle explained that the hotline workers also fill an important role as empathetic listeners who help stave off hopelessness in callers.

“What I told the team when they first started is that people are calling because they want to talk to somebody,” Lytle said. “Sometimes they just need someone to hear them — they might have just lost their job and the kids are coming home from school. For a lot of the calls we received, it was listening and assessing what they were really asking for.”

Executive Director of the Yolo Community Foundation Jessica Hubbard listed the ways local nonprofits are being helped during the crisis, which includes a campaign to ramp up donations. 

“We are partnering with Yolo County on what we’re calling the Yolo COVID-19 Nonprofit Relief Initiative,” Hubbard said. “We’re working on a donor education campaign that’s designed to encourage local community members to give directly to local nonprofits.”

The Yolo Community Foundation website describes the goal of the COVID-19 Relief Initiative seeks to aid struggling nonprofits that provide essential services. 

“The new COVID-19 Relief Initiative provides resources to help the essential work of Yolo nonprofits during this unprecedented crisis” the website reads. “Yolo County’s nonprofits care for the most vulnerable in the community and enrich the fabric of the Yolo community through a wide range of programs that support, teach, and connect.”

Hubbard explained that most of its funds will be given to essential nonprofits, and the remainder will be granted to nonprofits negatively impacted by the crisis. 

“We are accepting grants in two categories,” Hubbard said. “One is organizations that are frontline responders to the crisis — so organizations addressing problems that have been created or exacerbated by COVID-19 and the economic condition. We’re also accepting grants from nonprofits seeing revenue drop or a loss of volunteers due to the crisis.”

As of April 17, the initiative raised $325,000 from Yolo County, Davis and Woodland. Winters and West Sacramento were also considering donating to the fund. 

Because of the economic strain caused by COVID-19, Hubbard said she understood that many people would be unable to donate. For those in a better financial position, however, donating is especially important at this time.  

“A lot of us are worried about our jobs or our income or have already seen job loss and income drop,” Hubbard said. “But for those of us who can, it’s really important to do what we’re able to in order to support local nonprofits.”

Written by: Eden Winniford –– city@theaggie.org

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