MidPen Partners, Supporters and Friends,
On March 17th, 2020 our world as we knew it changed overnight. What we thought might be a temporary disruption has become a new reality — not only for MidPen, but also for the 20,000+ residents that call our communities home. With the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to adjust in just about every way possible. We’ve learned to work, socialize and communicate differently. And speaking of learning, many of us have adjusted to parenting – and helping teach – children who are attending school from a distance.
As many of you know, this November we will celebrate our 50th anniversary. Over the last 50 years, through times of celebration and times of challenge, we have brought innovative solutions to deliver on our mission, providing safe, affordable housing of high quality to those in need. As COVID-19 continues to take its toll on our communities, MidPen, as an essential business, is bolstering efforts to help support our partners and residents. In May, we launched our Resident Resiliency Fund, which to date has raised $500,000 for residents who have experienced COVID-related financial hardship. We deployed the first 40% of these funds in the form of micro-grants to our residents who know their own financial situation and can decide how to best allocate those funds.
As we chart our path forward, our number one priority continues to be the health and safety of our employees and residents. This summer, we invited input from our 500 MidPen and Hello Housing employees – many of whom continue to serve our residents on a daily basis – and spoke with more than 100 of our working parents to learn how MidPen can best provide support during this time. As a result of that input, MidPen released the following guidelines, which will be effective through March 31, 2021. We will continue to monitor the conditions in the Bay Area and will make adjustments to our work plan if conditions improve sooner than currently anticipated.
Company-wide: Our regional offices will remain closed to the public. It is impractical to open large offices under the current conditions and our employees reported that they are working well from home, which we have seen ourselves. We remain available via telephone and email, and we are connecting with our city and county partners virtually to conduct the necessary business to keep our development projects moving.
Property Management: Our Property Management staff continues to provide essential services to support residents. They are on-site 5 days a week; however, the office remains closed to the public. Appointments are available if business cannot be conducted via phone or email. We are operating on a flexible schedule so that Property Management staff can have the necessary time to tend to personal needs, such as assisting a young child beginning the school year with remote learning. We have implemented detailed safety protocols that guide our employees on how to protect themselves and our residents when performing tasks that require interaction with other people.
Resident Services: Our Resident Services staff also continues to deliver essential direct services to our residents. They are operating on a flexible schedule with 3 days on-site and 2 days working remotely. We delivered a 100% virtual, six-week Summer Program and will deliver 100% virtual After-School Programming in the fall. The team is maintaining essential on-site mental health services for our supportive residents, providing food assistance through our contracted partners, and addressing social isolation with our seniors through creative virtual gatherings.
In order to further support our employees during these extended unprecedented times, MidPen has made a commitment to changing cultural business practices that might impact external partners — and we ask for your support and patience as we enter this new chapter in our story. Work-life-balance has always been at the forefront of MidPen’s culture, and with 30% of our employees working from home and/or working flexible schedules, this has become a challenge. Because of this, we are re-affirming our business hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in order to give working parents with children engaged in remote learning an opportunity to help their children get their day started. We also have committed that as a company, we will not schedule any meetings between the hours of 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. This aligns with lunch breaks for school schedules and provides the important flexibility to attend family/personal needs or enjoy a much-needed lunch break on a consistent basis.
Finally, we want to create awareness and understanding for work-from-home conditions. At this point, we’ve seen many scenarios during our video calls. From dogs barking unexpectedly to surprise cameos from excited children, there can – and most likely will be – distractions and different experiences as we continue working from home. At MidPen, two of our guiding principles are Belonging and Inclusion, and we intend to model these behaviors by being patient, understanding, and even appreciative of the nuances.
Throughout the last five decades, there have been tough situations that we’ve had to creatively navigate — and the last five months are no exception. But I am proud to say that MidPen is stronger than ever before. The patience, resiliency and eagerness to adopt new ways of working has been truly extraordinary. We really are better together — and together we will get through this.
Thank you for your continued support of our mission.
Matthew O. Franklin
President & CEO