Faith communities helped 81,000 
during pandemic in 4 NYC zip codes

Gary Atkins

More than 81,000 people in four neighbourhoods of New York were served by faith communities during the pandemic a NAYBA Impact Audit has found.

And the statistics reveal that the social impact of the work carried out was worth in excess of $9.5 million – despite church closures and reduced attendances.

The data was collected during a NAYBA Impact Audit by LEAD.NYC and NAYBA. Both Christian organisations began working together on a 10-year plan in 2018 to measure the impact of faith-based work within 10 zip codes in New York.

But the COVID-19 outbreak meant the NAYBA Impact Audit was carried out in 4 zip codes over 16 months. The new audit NIA focused on East New York, Washington Heights & Inwood, Stapleton/Park Hill (Staten Island) and East Harlem.

Initially, LEAD-NYC responded with relief grants to the hardest hit neighbourhoods. Faith communities formed partnerships during the pandemic and worked in their neighbourhoods in a variety of ways.

These included:

• Helping feed and clothe the homeless and those with financial insecurity.

• Supporting at-risk young people and activities to connect and equip young people.

• Rolling out disaster relief and recovery to people affected by COVID-19.

Who benefited?

As a result of this work, 81,254 individuals benefited, which contributed $9,562,230 in social impact value to New York City. The Impact Audit also revealed that:

• 49% of organisations increased community service activity in response to COVID-19.

• 67% of organisations’ work include serving vulnerable young people or children.

•64 community service activities were identified, addressing 16 of the greatest social needs.

Staggering results

LEAD-NYC Neighbourhoods Director says: “The results of the Impact Audit tell a powerful story of the resilience of faith-based organisations serving vulnerable neighbourhoods in the face of adversity. Half of organisations surveyed expanded their reach to meet needs at what has been a very difficult and unprecedented time.

“Due to the pandemic, some churches have closed and attendance has fallen by up to 50%. Some faith leaders have left ministry or are burned out due to the pressure while internal resources have decreased. But this has not stopped the important work of faith-based communities. Bearing in mind the social impact value has exceeded $9.5 million, it proves the importance of such communities at the most difficult times.”

Matt Bird, founder and CEO of NAYBA, which supports churches to help them transform their neighbourhoods, believes the results are staggering.

He says: “The work of the faith communities reached more than 81,200 people in just four neighbourhoods in New York City. That is staggering when you consider the huge impact of COVID-19, which could have impeded the ability of faith communities to reach out.

“Instead, they stepped up and doubled down on their efforts to help those in greatest need. These figures show the massive importance of faith communities to neighbourhoods in delivering support and value to the most vulnerable in society.

“We are sure this was reflected around the world and worldwide governments should be, I am sure, grateful for these efforts in the face of a pandemic.”

Here are more details about Impact Audits.

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