Last week I opened up a can of worms. It was not my intention to do so. I’d been reading about how the four month moratorium on evictions was ending, putting 12 million renters at risk of being thrown out on the street. A homeless crisis lopped onto a pandemic sounded, well, pretty bad. Also, I’d been drinking bourbon. So I pulled out a fresh check book, went to theCHIVE community, and volunteered to write rent Checks for Chivers who had fallen on hard times.
I assumed 100 or so people would write in for help. Because I am both naive and dumb.
My inbox instantly exploded. The requests for help laid bare, raw, and vulnerable. The looming threat of eviction during a pandemic has backed so many Americans into a corner. More than the money, I got the feeling people just wanted somebody to listen. So I poured another glass of the brown stuff, got out a box of tissues, and listened.
Patterns emerged quickly. Over half the emails came in from disabled or immune-compromised. Most applicants had children. All of them had completely exhausted their savings and were on the last week of using their paid time off. I believe back in the 20’s during the Great Depression this was referred to as 'the last puff of the cigar.’
To be fair and equal, everybody we identified as ‘imminent evictions’ received a $500 personal check from me (the only cards I had on hand were birthday cards btw) - and just like that, my checks were gone. I looked at the remaining 900 or so emails and what I originally thought was a lofty gesture suddenly felt empty, hollow, and earth bound.
And here’s a glimpse as to why…
*Names changed to protect identities*
But then my inbox began filling with Chivers asking how they can help. Hundreds of complete strangers poured into my Instagram asking if they can sponsor another Chivers’ rent? Suddenly there was hope, but not really a plan.
Come August 1st, this nation will face one of the largest mass evictions our nation has ever seen. And the best communities will rise up to meet the gravity of the moment. We have arrived at that moment. As for the plan I went with The Roman philosopher Horace on the this one – “Don’t think, just do.”
We have identified 50 more people and families who are in imminent danger of being evicted. They have all been vetted to the best of our ability (we’ve gotten very good at this over the past decade). The GoFundMe is set up through our Chive Nation page. This falls outside Chive Charities’ charitable class but not Central Florida Chive's whose 501c3 is set up to power just these types of lightening-fast funding.
We will be making donations in $500 increments to all that need it. And time is of the essence. Communities helping communities.
theChive community has very little interest for hitting goals so much as we obliterate them. Once we surge past the $20,000 goal we will begin approving new recipients fast as we can.
There is no easy and obvious solution to the housing problem. The world economy has been plunged into crisis. Coronavirus is like a hurricane hitting every state. But if we do nothing to help our neighbors, nothing will happen. One thing I am certain of, if we do this many will follow our lead, private and public citizens alike. You can bet we can move the needle with this, we will lead.
The beacons are lit: Whether you have $5 or $500, your generosity will help keep a roof over somebody’s head. If it only buys them 30 more days, that’s 30 more days to figure it out.
- Patricia Linnar
- Jeremy and Danielle Davis
Organizer and beneficiary
Central Florida Chive