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Our Community Impact in the First 6 Months of the Pandemic

Posted September 16, 2020

It’s been 6 months since Pike Place Market began facing its greatest challenge in decades.

The Market’s 500 small, independently owned businesses continue to struggle and adapt to a changed economy, while thousands of Market workers have lost their jobs. The Market’s mostly senior residents on fixed incomes remain safely at home above the storefronts and our network of social services continue working on the front line of the pandemic serving thousands of our downtown neighbors.

While our health and social systems are being challenged in every way, the Market Foundation’s model for a healthy community is rooted in the social determinants of health. This allows the Market Foundation to respond effectively to the needs of our community.

The Market Commons is critical to the Market Foundation’s ability to both identify and pivot to meet the emerging needs of the community. This has been crucial for our response to the COVID-19 crisis. While The Market Commons’s doors closed in early March, our staff continue to support and respond to the urgent needs of our neighbors.

The Market Community Safety Net expands

In early March as businesses shuttered, we knew the needs of Market workers would immediately spike. Thanks to the over 400 donors who responded to our call, we built up the Market Community Safety Net to aid the Market community with rent relief and additional support with resources such as unemployment, health care and food stamp applications to provide long-term stability. By the end of June, 99 people were supported by grants from the Safety Net – that’s equivalent to the Safety Net support we provided in all of 2019!

Farmers, residents, crafts people, and retail and restaurant workers are eligible to apply to the Market Safety Net. For the first time in the fund’s history, we’ve seen an unprecedented number of requests from Market workers in the  retail and restaurant industries .

“Thank you so much for your help with rent,” said a worker from one of the Market’s restaurants. “Our family isn’t eligible for the stimulus check or unemployment, it has been a really stressful time and this helps.”

Real People on the Other End of the Phone

During these uncertain times, being able to reach a real person on the other end of the phone has proven to be invaluable in order to help the community navigate resources. Since March, The Market Commons has made 4,455 interactions, calls, and emails to community members throughout the Market.

One Market community member, who our Resource Coordinator works with weekly to help file his weekly unemployment claims said “I’m older and not tech savvy, I wouldn’t have applied for unemployment without your help.”

Reaching out to our community also goes beyond problem-solving and resource navigation; it also means checking in on the social wellness of our neighborhood.

The Market Commons staff shares their positive nature via regular phone calls with senior residents and Market community members.  “Living alone during the pandemic, I’ve really appreciated our check-ins for some time to chat,” one of the many local residents that the staff reach out to.

Happy 3rd Birthday to The Market Commons

This is just a fraction of the impact made by the hard work of The Market Commons. In the coming months, we’ll share how The Commons continues to step up: from creating an emergency food distribution plan for Market workers and senior residents facing food insecurity, to how staff launched our new Small Business Recovery Fund to help business owners adapt and stay afloat.

“So thankful and so grateful for you helping all of us to navigate this crazy time. It means a lot to know how much support the market is giving to its community.” said a community member. 

This investment and commitment reduces barriers to factors that can support a healthy community. This has allowed The Commons to adapt and expand to meet the needs of the community during this stressful time.
In the 3 years The Commons has been open, they’ve proven invaluable to promoting the health & stability of the entire community.

We know it’s a long road ahead, but the heart of the Market community is strong.

Please donate and be part of our mission to nurture this Market community through this pandemic and beyond.