From increases in unemployment to food insecurity, the Covid-19 Pandemic has changed the way we navigate life in more ways than one. Among those who have been affected the most are the City’s homeless population – which was already expecting to face a harsh Winter.
According to a report by Coalition for the Homeless, families make up three-quarters of the homeless shelter population. This includes over 45,000 different homeless New York City children.
Additionally, the report finds that African American and Latino New Yorkers are disproportionately affected by homelessness. “Approximately 58 % of New York City homeless shelter residents are African American, 31 % are Latino, 7 % are white, less than 1 % are Asian-American, and 3 % are of unknown race/ethnicity.”
While this winter is filled with plenty of turmoil, organizations like Providence House and Concrete Luxury Group, have collaborated to ease the burden this holiday season.
Normally Concrete Luxury Group would be gearing up for their annual “Black Christmas”, a celebration of Black Excellence and people of color. However, given the current state of the world, the festivities were canceled with no indication of when they would return.
The organization started in 2017 with Xavier Anglin and his Co-Founders, Brian Johnson, Tyler Mackenzie, Michael George, and Gary Toles. “The first three years we have been privileged enough to come together in one space and we always did a toy drive. This year is going to be different due to the Pandemic, but we still wanted to celebrate and give back”, said Xavier Anglin.
This holiday season, the organization has come together with Providence House, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing temporary housing for women who would otherwise be incarcerated, transitional housing for homeless women and children, and permanent supportive housing for individuals and families who suddenly find themselves homeless.
The Holiday Drive, which launched on November 22, will run through December 18. Doners can purchase what Providence House calls “move out kits” and other household items such as, linens, appliances, emergency response kits, and more. All items purchased through the Amazon registery will be sent directly to families at Providence House.
“Our goal is to help them secure housing on their own. But It’s a big monetary burden to move from our facility to their own home,” said Andrea Bell, Manager of Community Engagement. “We do receive funding from the state however, we rely heavily on donations from the community. This drive is going to help us address the needs of the families we represent”, she added.
So far, the Black Christmas Holiday Drive has received over 100 donations and the team is hoping to increase the number to 700 donations in order to distribute as much as possible to families in need.
As residents themselves, the men behind Black Christmas are familiar with the socioeconomic instability throughout Brooklyn and understand that this Pandemic has only made things worse.
“This Pandemic has tested us all in a multitude of ways and we’ve come to realize that paying it forward is the greatest act of kindness we can do during this time,” said Co-founder, Brian Johnson. “This is our way of giving back to Brooklyn and our community as a whole.