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February 2017 Entry

The Westside Hand Up Project

Jillian Madden
Atlanta · GA
What is your cause and how will it make the world kinder?

For low-income working Atlantans, a job loss, a cut in hours, or an unexpected illness can lead to homelessness. For thirty years, Midtown Assistance Center (MAC) has provided emergency rent and utility assistance to help these households through financial crisis. In 2000, MAC recognized a great and growing need in Atlanta’s Westside. While MAC assists seven zip codes in the metro Atlanta area, 41% of MAC’s financial assistance now serves the Westside.
MAC acts as a hand up and meets the basic needs of Westside families like Randy’s. While sitting on his porch one day, Randy was hit by a stray bullet. This required multiple surgeries and forced him to leave his job. MAC paid his rent while he got back on his feet.

How will you use the $10k?

The KIND Causes Grant will go directly toward paying rent and utilities in the Westside, specifically households in the 30314 zip code. In a 6 month period, MAC makes around 170 rent payments and 210 utility payments. Since rent in this zip code is very affordable, $500 can provide one month’s rent, and $150 can keep someone’s lights on. With $10,000, MAC could prevent up to an additional 20 evictions and/or 65 utility shut-offs.
MAC will use the funds to help people like Eric. Eric came to MAC after losing his job during the recession, unsure of where to turn. Now fiscally independent, he says that MAC “opened up a space for things to turn around.” $10,000 will help us continue to create futures no longer bound by financial crisis.

What impact do you hope to make?

MAC sees firsthand that kindness changes lives. We assist often overlooked individuals like security guards, restaurant staff, and hotel employees. While usually financially stable, the people we serve fall behind due to one unexpected loss or expense, causing them to lose their peace of mind, and ultimately, their homes. Funeral expenses, medical bills, or a job loss can set someone on the path to eviction. We aim to reorient the trajectory toward homelessness by keeping households stable through tragedy and transition . On a large and long term scale, we hope that our continued assistance to the Westside will lead the area itself to no longer be defined by poverty and a lack of service.

Other Details

Since we are an established financial assistance not-for-profit organization that already serves the 30314 zip code, we will begin using the funding to pay rent and utilities for Westside households immediately.
Each person we assist calls and schedules an appointment. When they come in for their appointment, they bring the necessary documents and we write a check to their landlord or to the power company. As a crisis assistance center, we often schedule an appointment and pay someone’s rent or bill the day after or, in some cases, even the same day they call.
Since we serve a high number of households in 30314, we will use the full $10,000 within a six month period and conduct rent follow up six months after the assistance.

Every month, KIND supports one cause with $10,000

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