Pandemic response fund delivers $2M to agencies helping vulnerable Hamiltonians

Experts say those experiencing homelessness are more vulnerable to the COVID-19 outbreak. AP Photo/Andrew Selsky

More than a dozen Hamilton organizations that serve the city’s most vulnerable residents are getting an emergency $2 million in funding.

The Hamilton Community Foundation (HCF) says it’s the first commitment from its newly developed COVID-19 pandemic response fund, with more money expected to go out to even more organizations in the coming weeks and months.

President and CEO Terry Cooke said the first wave of funding comes from the Foundation’s reserves.

“We’ve been saving for a rainy day and this is most assuredly a difficult storm that we’re facing,” Cooke said.

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Sixteen organizations that serve Hamilton’s most vulnerable residents have been selected to receive a portion of the $2 million, including Hamilton Food Share, Good Shepherd, the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, and the Shelter Health Network.

“Charities that are providing services, really, to the most marginalized, hard-to-serve communities who obviously have been deeply challenged by COVID-19.”

Since launching the fund earlier this week, the Foundation has received commitments of an additional $750,000 or so from donors.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario health official says homeless should be in priority test group'
Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario health official says homeless should be in priority test group

Cooke says this is only the first phase in what is expected to be a long-term response to an unprecedented situation.

“Obviously, this thing is going to go on for quite some time, so we’re also mindful that while there are emergency and immediate needs that we’re trying to respond to, there will also be some longer-term needs in terms of recovery of the community and of the services that we’re trying to sustain here.”

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus around the world: March 27, 2020'
Coronavirus around the world: March 27, 2020

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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