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Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis in the Market

Posted November 7, 2020

Like many communities around the globe, Pike Place Market has faced unforeseen challenges this year.

Yet, our decades-long commitment to a healthy community model allows us to adapt and expand our work in response to the needs of the people who live, work and access services in the Market. 

This internationally accredited framework called the Social Determinants of Health allows us to create a Market community where everyone has the opportunity to live their best life possible – from the workers and shopkeepers, to the senior residents, donors and shoppers. Learn more about the needs of our community and how we’re responding to maintain the health of the Market. 

Maintaining our Neighborhood and Physical Environment:

A healthy community serves a variety of needs and purposes for creating a neighborhood where all types of people can find home regardless of age, race, ability and economic status. It is vital to the long-term health of the Market community that we maintain a vibrant, safe space for our community to live and work in as the COVID crisis continues. 

“Right at the beginning of the pandemic in April and March when things were really scary and people were on the edge of falling apart, you provided food and social connection that really helped lift people up,” said a Market resident. “I’ve felt the difference in my building and the neighborhood –It’s really a ripple of good you guys have created.”

Our Response:

We are working with our housing and social service partners to ensure that the hundreds of senior residents in the Market who live on low and fixed incomes remain housed and safely sheltered in place during the pandemic. We also continue to support the Market’s social service agencies to ensure healthcare, meals, groceries and social support remain open and accessible. 

We know our small business community is suffering dramatic losses and we need to offer solutions to keep them open and viable.For the first time in the Market Foundation’s 38-year history, we launched a Small Business Recovery Fund. This fund invests directly in the small, locally owned businesses of the Market by providing quick, flexible funding and long-term support for businesses to transition to new economic conditions.  At the end of September we completed phase one of this program with $250,000 in grants invested into 39 Market businesses. Phase two of this program continues through the end of 2020 when we anticipate investing a total of $500,000 into dozens more owner-operated businesses. 

Economic Stability For People

Due to incredible revenue losses and high rates of unemployment, the need for individual financial support within the Market community has skyrocketed. 

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

Our Response:

The Market Community Safety Net has been around for decades, but the need has never been greater. This fund is available for Market workers, farmers, residents and social service clients who are facing a sudden financial crisis. We’ve reached an all-time high of requests in recent history and have been able to support 143 people so far through the Safety Net this year. We anticipate the need for this fund to increase significantly as this crisis endures.

Small Business grants for sole-proprietor shops in the Market are also helping to keep business owners housed and stable at this time as well.

Access to Healthy Food 

Access to fresh, healthy food for our neighbors has always been at the heart of the mission of the Market and this value extends to every member of the community, regardless of their income or ability to pay. 

Our Response:
In early March, our partners at The Pike Market Senior Center transitioned from in-person meal service to take-away meals for its members. The staff continue to offer space for members experiencing homelessness to safely eat indoors and use restroom services. Since March, they’ve served 18,793 meals to the community.

The Pike Market Food Bank opened a take-away window for families and individuals in need of groceries every week. The Food Bank has provided 20,824 bags of fresh produce and shelf-ready foods for Market residents and downtown neighbors.

The Market Commons launched an Emergency Food Distribution Program to ensure senior residents in the Market had access to groceries or meals without leaving their homes. The staff delivered 989 emergency food bags and 15,737 emergency meals to residents who were unable to shop or cook for themselves and needed to stay at home.

“Thank you so much for the meals,” said a Market resident. “This has really taken a lot of stress off about whether or not to go out and how to safely get food.”

Tending to the Healthcare Needs of Our Community

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed wide gaps in our nation’s healthcare system and highlights the need for care and support for every member of our community, regardless of insurance or ability to pay. 

Our Response:

Our partners at Neighborcare Health at Pike Place Market are on the frontlines providing health care services to some of those most vulnerable populations during the pandemic. 

Inside the Pike Place Market clinic, physicians, nurse practitioners, behavioral health consultants, and nurses are caring for their patients with onsite and telehealth visits. Meanwhile, the Clinic’s outreach team launched a COVID-19 mobile testing unit and is administering COVID-19 tests in addition to medical and behavioral health care to our neighbors living on the streets, in shelters and supportive housing throughout downtown and other Seattle neighborhoods.  

As of September, the Neighborcare team from the Market has provided 9,600 medical and behavioral health visits and 2,600 mobile COVID-19 tests.

“It’s really important for our folks in supportive housing and outside to feel seen and heard by the healthcare system, because they often don’t feel that,” said a nurse at Neighborcare Health at Pike Place Market. 

Heritage House at the Market, the assisted living facility for seniors in the Market, went into shutdown in early March to keep residents healthy and safe. They’ve remained COVID-free by providing one-on-one care, delivering meals and adapting healthcare visits to telehealth and family visits to video chats for all residents, among other safety and sanitation measures. 

As unemployment increased, so did the loss of insurance and healthcare benefits that so many people rely on. Resource teams across the Market at The Market Commons, Neighborcare Health and Pike Market Senior Center increased their capacity to provide virtual healthcare and resource navigation to community members who’ve never needed to access these benefits before.

Early-Age Education In The Age of COVID-19

Early education is a critical factor in both the long-term outcome of children as they grow, but also the stability and success of families to maintain employment and pursue higher education. Now, more than ever, access to child care has become a critical issue for essential workers, especially women and families living on lower incomes.

“While many things have changed to respond responsibly to the pandemic, our joy of living and learning together remains the same,” said a teacher at Pike Market Child Care and Preschool.

Our Response: The Market’s child care center re-opened in July to provide a safe environment for community members to find care for their children while they go to work. The need for tuition assistance among preschool families has significantly increased as they continue to face more hardship and economic instability. By partnering with the Pike Market Child Care and Preschool we support access to high-quality early learning and the tuition assistance program that benefits up to 70% of attending families.

Fostering Social + Community Context in a Virtual World

Isolation among seniors has always been a critical risk factor to poor health, but the pandemic has exacerbated the level of health risk and harm to this population. That’s why our outreach to community members includes having someone to talk to and checking in on the wellbeing of our neighbors.

“You guys have been taking such good care of me,” said a Market resident. “In 23 years of living here, I’ve never had such a feeling of being so connected to my community. It’s a really big deal for me, especially during the pandemic which can be really isolating.”

Our Response:
Unable to provide their usual in-person visits, The Market Commons team now provides social support with regular phone calls to check in with senior residents and Market community members. They’ve made 941 social connections with community members and continue fostering a caring environment for seniors and community members who are isolated.

The Pike Market Senior Center now broadcasts its fitness and social activities online and on television through a partnership with Seattle Channel called AgeWise TV. Senior Center staff are also dedicated to writing a weekly community newsletter helping their nearly 1,000 member base feel a sense of community and connection while staying at home. 

Thanks to our community partners and donors – YOU make this model for a healthy community at Pike Place Market possible.

Join us in keeping this community strong and vibrant throughout the pandemic.