COVID Relief Helps Residents Bridge the Gap

CAC Helping Neighbors from All Walks of Life

The COVID-19 economic crisis threatened people from all walks of life with homelessness as livelihoods have suddenly been cut off. At the height of the crisis CAC was receiving 4 times as many requests for assistance than before COVID. CAC quickly shifted to providing services remotely to help as many of our neighbors as possible stay in their homes. In 2020 CAC provided more than $2 million in rent assistance! The stories are many, from single young adults to seniors to families of all sizes. Here are the stories of some of our neighbors who got caught up in the economic crisis and turned to CAC for help.

Family in Search of a Better Life

In 2020 Steve and Patty made a big decision to move to GA from a northern state that was shutdown and didn’t show any signs of reopening any time soon. Steve is a behavioral specialist and works with young children at schools and after school programs. His jobs were put on hold due to the pandemic. Patty works for herself in pop up retail. Her income dried up. Georgia looked like a better bet for both of them to get back to work and for their young children to get back into school. They had savings to keep them afloat for a while, but when Steve didn’t find a job as quickly as he expected and his wife’s business was still struggling, they searched for assistance and found CAC. CAC paid 2 months rent for the family including a past due amount. “The rent from CAC was really helpful, we were thankful to get it,” said Steve. Right now Steve says they are still trying to figure things out, he’s looking to take any type of work for the time being but they don’t have a car so transportation is an issue. He continues to search for a position working with children and his wife is still trying to get her retail business back on track.

Young Adult Faces Double Crisis

Ben was working for a local cleaning business and supporting himself before being furloughed due to COVID closures. Ben was resourceful and quickly found an overnight warehouse job until another unexpected crisis occurred. While driving Ben was hit by a distracted driver resulting in severe injuries and a totaled vehicle.
Ben’s apartment complex referred him to CAC. Together we were able to establish a plan that included paying his rent for two months while he applied for disability benefits to help tide him over while he underwent physical therapy. In addition, Ben was able to use weekly job listings compiled by a CAC volunteer to find a job that he could do from home that does not involve physical labor. The only thing that kept him from immediately accepting a job offer was his old laptop had died. Imagine the excitement in his voice when we told him CAC had a free refurbished laptop for him! Because people care enough to give to CAC Ben is now supporting himself once again.

CAC Assistance to Local Residents in the COVID Crisis


Since covid began (March 2020) through end of 2021 CAC distributed $3.1 M in rent assistance to 2,179 households serving 5,183 individuals.

2021 Highlights:

  • CAC provided $1.1M in emergency financial assistance for rent and utilities to 814 households.
  • CAC distributed clothing valued at $54,000 to 2,074 individuals.
  • CAC distributed a half a million pounds of food feeding 3,158 individuals.
  • Launched a Career Center
  • Began construction on a 4th CAC location, setting up CAC’s return to south Sandy Springs with an assistance office and food pantry on Northwood Dr near I-285. Tentative grand opening by March/April 2021.

2020 COVID Response:

  • Served 9,188 individuals from 3,466 households overall- a 41% increase in individuals served over 2019 – More than half of these families sought CAC’s help for the first time.
  • $2,024,254 in emergency financial assistance for rent and utilities helping 1,348 families- a 598% increase in assistance distributed in 2019 ($293,835)
  • Food given to 6,452 individuals from 2215 households – a 44% increase in individuals and 17% increase in households over 2019
  • Distributed 54,659 lunches to 735 children provided by Bold Ministries
  • Delivered weekly food to senior citizens, medically fragile or home-bound individuals
  • Adopt-a-Family, Holiday Food Gift Cards, and school supplies all served more individuals and households than in 2019

Single Mother of 3 Laid Off

Alice, a single mother of 3 young children, recently contacted CAC desperate for help. Alice worked in a call center and was laid off when COVID hit. Since then she has worked multiple waitress jobs, often for tips only, but couldn’t make ends meet, all the while looking for better paying work. With rent and fees mounting up and no child support she and her children faced eviction.

Fortunately, she found CAC. Alice and children live in an apartment complex in Sandy Spring and CAC has a good working relationship with many apartment management companies in the area. They know the difficult times many of their tenants are facing and they don’t want to see them become homeless. CAC negotiates with apartment companies on behalf of our clients, to reduce or eliminate fees, pay back rent and put payment plans in place. Helping our clients stay in their homes eliminates the trauma and upheaval caused by evictions and is less costly than helping a homeless family get back on their feet.

CAC worked out a plan with Alice’s apartment complex to reduce the amount she owed and made a rent payment. As a result, Alice and her children were able to remain in their apartment. She started a new job that same month that is more steady and she continues to look for full time work. She hopes to get hired back by the call center at some point.


The Small Business Owner

Shirley is a small business owner who works in the trade show industry. She sells merchandise to retailers. Her income is 100 % commission. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the trade show industry was the first to be shut down in March and hasn’t reopened yet.

“This has created huge challenges for people who own small businesses,” she said. “More people need to understand the broad impact the financial crisis is having, not just on those we typically think of. “

When the trade shows were cancelled, her business rent was not. She was faced with paying rent for her business and her residence with no income coming in. To make matters worse, sales she made at the low-attended February show were cancelled yet she incurred expenses for booth rent and contract employees.

“When I’m working I make good money but the reality is when you can’t work your bills don’t change,” Shirley said.

A long-time fundraiser for the United Way to help abused women and children, Shirley was now the one contacting the United Way for help. They referred her to CAC.  She knew of this place, she has donated clothes there before. CAC helped Shirley with her April rent while she waited for unemployment benefits. She went 2 months before getting unemployment and has gone 6 months without income from her business.

“I’m so grateful for the help I am getting, but at the same time never in my wildest dreams would I ever think I would need assistance,” she said. “Who would ever think something like this would happen?”

A show is planned for August. Shirley is hopeful that some of her retail store customers will be there buying so she can re-start her business. Once she’s back on her feet she plans to support and volunteer at CAC to help others in need.


A Young Family’s Life Turned Upside Down

Things were going well for Steve and his family with a young daughter and twins on the way. But since the coronavirus crisis began they have lived with uncertainty and stress. He’s a private contractor in the film and TV industry. They moved to GA for work 5 years ago.

When the coronavirus crisis began in March he was impacted right away, his industry has been shut down since and is not planning on coming back until maybe January of next year. His wife who works for a day care center was also sent home. They cut their household budget but by late April were running out of savings. St. Vincent de Paul pledged $300 toward their rent and referred them to CAC where Steve talked to Bob on our assistance team. CAC covered the balance of their rent for May.

“We were extremely grateful, I’m embarrassed, but grateful. I just want to thank the people of CAC,” he said through tears. His wife began to receive unemployment benefits but Steve has yet to despite applying 2 months ago. “If I could get unemployment we could make it but right now we are really struggling,” he said.

Without enough funds for June rent the couple is trying sell belongings for cash, going to their landlord to request relief and considering moving to live with family in California. CAC is helping as many families as possible but the need is great. Your donations make an immediate impact on the lives of our neighbors like Steve facing difficult situations.