The Great Recession saw millions of people lose their homes, and it could’ve been worse in 2020 in the midst of a pandemic had it not been for members of the community standing up to provide help. These community members were neighbors, mutual aid organizations, and many other companies whose names are historically associated with providing relief. But there were also businesses who made altruistic contributions to their communities instead of focusing only on short-term profits.
The businesses that chose community over profit will be remembered for their sacrifices during the dark days of the pandemic. One of these philanthropic business models that rose to the occasion is MEB Management Services, a property management company that provides management services to all types and qualities of multi-family assets, which helped nearly 2,000 of their residents get access to rental assistance, navigate the unemployment system and stock their refrigerators with fresh food.
MEB Management set up the MEB Cares Team which proactively identified, communicated and guided struggling residents through the various nonprofit networks and government systems to help obtain the resources they needed to keep food on the table, roofs over their heads and remain in good health.
Their actions as an active participant in aiding their residents during the pandemic should serve as a model for businesses and how they can respond during times of crisis to the communities that help them thrive.
MEB Cares Team partnered with more than a dozen nonprofit and local organizations, including the Salvation Army and St Mary’s Food Bank, but also smaller organizations like Paz de Christo and several local schools.
A Feeding America study showed that 1 in 4 children in the United States lived in “food insecure” homes last year because of the pandemic and the economy. MEB brought food to the children of its residents utilizing a partnership with Kitchen on the Street, a nonprofit fighting child hunger through meals to schoolchildren, and local schools.
MEB could have sent a property manager when it noticed clients behind on rent. Instead, they sent help.
The MEB Cares Team is not just beneficial to MEB’s customers, but to MEB itself for living up to the company’s mission statement even in the face of immense pressure. The public will remember which businesses abandoned the communities that support them, and which businesses supported the community when the public had little support.
The company’s values of humility, loyalty, knowledgeability, tenacity and a team-first mindset are what led MEB to leverage a corporate group of employees to take “pain-staking” efforts to find every available resource – government programs, local non-profits and the Arizona Multi-housing Association – to aid residents over the past year.
The pandemic has taken away so much from so many, including jobs, homes and the lives of loved ones. But it has also posed a question to people: What does it mean to be part of a community? More importantly, what can we do for our community?
The model used by MEB should be copied by other members of the business community, showing that businesses can also be a part of philanthropic endeavors. Recently, MEB also partnered with the Rental Property Owners Preservation Fund that provides assistance to rental property owners across the State of Arizona who are facing rental income issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rental-assistance is just one part of the equation, though. The MEB Cares Team made sure to do a holistic check of how the resident was doing.
And in a once-in-a-century pandemic, the businesses that chose to increase its capacity to help the community and help residents in need will be remembered for their diligence, understanding and proactive approach.
It’s one of those proverbial win-win-win scenarios. The residents won because they were able to have the resources to stay in their homes, and the clients won because they’re getting rental income, and, of course, MEB won because they were fulfilling their mission to really enrich the lives of people.
Mark Schilling is senior vice president of MEB Management Services.