Across Appalachia, Fahe Members are first responders to the housing, food, and financial needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Innovation and adaptability are core qualities of the Fahe Network, so it is no surprise that Members are reorienting their skills and resources to ensure their communities’ survival during this crisis while continuing to provide their normal essential services. Each organization is doing this under the constraints of social distancing, making sure their staff and community members stay healthy.
Our region is often portrayed as lacking the capacity to make a difference in our communities. This simply isn’t true. So to illustrate the cohesiveness and effectiveness that Appalachian institutions like our Members have on their communities, Fahe is highlighting COVID-19 responses across our Network. We have already featured the Emergency Business Loan Fund being administered by Alabama Member Neighborhood Concepts, Inc. and many more will follow. The capacity to make a difference exists in the region; however, there is a need for increased funding to make a true impact that matches the need. As Tom Manning-Beavin, CEO and President of Fahe Member Frontier Housing stated: “We need increased funding to support our ability to listen to our community, be nimble, and take care of people.
In the best of times, Appalachia receives less funding than the rest of the country, often working with policies designed for areas which are more prosperous and have greater infrastructure. There is a myth that Appalachia gets more than it deserves in government and philanthropic investments, but it simply isn’t true. Persistently poor regions like Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, Native American Country, the Central Valley of California, and the Colonias along the Mexico border are poor because they never received the same investment as the rest of the country and have subsisted on extractive economies (such as coal and timber) and been taken advantage of by corrupt business practices. On average, Appalachia receives $43 per person per year of philanthropic giving as opposed to the national average of $451. Areas like San Francisco receive upwards to$4,096 per person. A higher level of investment would support our response on the frontlines and allow us to maintain capacity during the days of recovery that lie ahead.
Just as our Members are required to be nimble to address new needs, so too does Fahe shift to ensure we can support the leaders as they respond to emergencies now and lead the recovery later. We have developed an emergency fund at zero percent interest to support any Members who need it, to allow them to continue serving their vulnerable communities. For the families we serve, Fahe Loan Servicing is providing forbearance plans to borrowers to prevent delinquencies and possible foreclosures. While such services help to ensure the health and safety of Appalachian communities, increased funding and investment in the region would be the surest way to provide help and support during crisis and even more important, it would allow our families to thrive during the best of economic times.
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