CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohio charities and non-profit organizations are feeling the financial strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic and some smaller agencies are concerned they may be forced to close unless some assistance comes soon
The United Way of Greater Cleveland serves more than 300,000 of the areas needy and provides support to 1.5 million people in Ohio through its 211 support line.
Augie Napoli, CEO, United Way of Greater Cleveland, told News 5 local non-profit organizations are losing a large amount of donations during the COVID-19 crisis, which hurts the ability of charities to help a growing number of people in need.
Napoli said some 51% of Cleveland children are living in poverty, and without strong non-profit organizations helping, it could significantly slow Northeast Ohio's coronavirus recovery.
“It’s been very tough for the delivery system,” Napoli said.
“We have the worst record in America, of major cities, in childhood poverty, second worst in working age adults, and the third worst in seniors.”
“It's also about jobs, 12% of the people that work in Ohio, work in the non-profit sector.”
Smaller non-profit organizations, like the Greater Ohio Lupus Foundation, are wondering how it will continue to provide continued support to the state's 60,000 Lupus patients.
Ohio Lupus Foundation CEO Suzanne Tierney told News 5 the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the ability to raise funds.
“It’s just horrible, it’s scary, usually when there’s tragedies the non-profits are on the front line to do their best," Tierney said.
“Tomorrow is scary, all of our walks, all of our big fund raising, no one is focusing and donating to the small non-profits."
"So please, don’t forget us through all this, we need to be here today and tomorrow.”
Ohio state senator NIkki Antonio, (D) Lakewood, District 23, is responding, and sent a letter to Governor Mike DeWine asking that a non-profit assistance plan be put in place as soon as possible.
Antonio told News 5 the plan would immediately suspended unemployment payments non-profits pay into the unemployment system, and calls for state grants and financial support to help charities weather the financial storm.
“We really want to see a relief package for non-profits,” Antonio said.
“This need to be addressed directly and it needs to be addressed now for these non profits, they’re so worried.”
Antonio said the governor is taking a look at a relief plan, but said she still not sure if or when it would be implemented.