TAMPA, Fla. -- As the state reopens in phases, the impact of the coronavirus crisis isn't going away for some families.
Metropolitan Ministries said within the last week, it surpassed helping 1,000 families over the last 90 days with rent or utilities, with the help of private donations.
"Last year, we were only able to help about 700 families and we could only give about $200 per family. But because of the generosity of this Tampa Bay community, your viewers and others, we’ve been able to pay about $850 in rent assistance to those 1,000 families. So a significant impact stabilization for families that are in crisis," said the nonprofit's CEO and president, Tim Marks.
Marks said they've also generated more than 16,500 food boxes to the community and more than 200,000 grab-and-go meals.
"The need is significant. It’s first-time folks that 90 days ago, none of this was a part of their life wasn’t in their line of sight. And now, we keep seeing more retail and other businesses shut down so it is for folks that work paycheck to paycheck. This is a crisis," he said.
Inside the welcome center, receptionist Marcia Hall answers many calls. She said it's been overwhelming and many of the calls have been tugging on the heartstrings.
"Can you imagine somebody on the phone that you have no idea who this person is, but they come on the phone just saying, 'I need help,' and they begin to cry out to you," she said.
The need isn't over, though. Marks said they view it as a marathon, so they're building the budget to continue distributing money into the community.
"I just think there’s a surge of need that’s going to be coming," he said. "Foreclosures have been put on hold but that doesn’t alleviate the financial responsibility these families had. So even though people may feel stable, it’s a temporary situation."
Those who need help or want to provide help can learn more here.