United Way of the Mid-South’s Driving The Dream program is partnering with the City of Memphis and Shelby County to provide access to resources and supportive services for families needing emergency rental and utility assistance.
The U.S. Department of Treasury has granted a total of $28.2 million to Memphis and Shelby County to administer the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program. Eligible residents of Shelby County can apply for rental payments to be made to landlords and utility payments to be made to Memphis Light Gas and Water. The ERA launched on March 1, 2020. Over 3,000 applications for assistance were received within the first two weeks of service.
The COVID 19 crisis has led to staggering increases in housing instability and evictions, increased unemployment, food insecurities, and anxiety about the financial future for many of our neighbors. United Way of the Mid-South’s Driving The Dream program provides a navigation system for those seeking basic services such as housing, food, and relief from the stress brought on by the pandemic. In partnership with the ERA, Driving The Dream will provide access to the network of 82 organizations that offer over 160 programs for ERA applicants who are determined to need access to additional support services. This partnership with Memphis and Shelby County will help to expand Driving The Dream’s outreach effort and provide expedient access to support services for the most vulnerable in our community.
The outcome of this collaborative partnership between the ERA relief payments and Driving The Dream’s integrated system of response will be assessed to determine the impact of leveraging community resources in breaking the cycle of generational poverty by improving economic stability. Collaborative initiatives are not easy, but Driving The Dream brings a common agenda of integrating systems such as human services, housing, mental health, workforce developments, education, and many more to partner and work together to help “move people from where they are to where they dream to be.”