Stories & Voices
The Pandemic’s Impact on Families Living in Poverty
May 11th, 2020

“The people coming through our doors were already struggling to make ends meet,” Rita Santelia says. “Now with the Covid-19 crisis, it’s more intense.”

Rita, CEO of Mosholu Montefiore Community Center, a UJA partner in the Bronx, offers a glimpse into how the center is helping.

The center is a lifeline to many individuals and families that include immigrants and undocumented workers, Rita notes. Many do not speak English. Often the families live in one room of a two- or three-bedroom apartment creating almost impossible odds of safely social-distancing. Many have medical issues. Parents can’t afford diapers or baby food. For those with kids, online school has been a real challenge because of language barriers, having one device to share among several children, and an inability to find quiet space for focusing.

And as more and more businesses close, workers who get by mainly through a cash-based economy simply can’t pay their rent or afford food. The community center’s food pantry now provides groceries to 1,000 households each week.

That’s why, as part of its more than $45 million in Covid-19 relief to date, UJA allocated emergency cash assistance to our nonprofit partners to help single-parent families right now.

While people worry about how long the pandemic will drag on, Rita says, the center remains dedicated to doing what they can in these overwhelming times.

And UJA is right there with them.