United Health Foundation Pledges $1 Million to Support Vulnerable Seattle Residents Amid COVID-19 Emergency

April 09, 2020
  • Partnership with the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) is part of initial $50 million commitment from UnitedHealth Group to fight COVID-19 and support impacted communities

The United Health Foundation has committed $1 million to provide urgent assistance to Seattle residents experiencing homelessness as they face unprecedented hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership with Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) is part of UnitedHealth Group’s (NYSE: UNH) previously announced initial $50 million commitment to fight COVID-19 and support those most directly impacted, including health care workers, hard-hit communities, seniors and people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity.

“Ever since the first U.S. COVID-19 case was diagnosed in Washington State, we have been concerned about the potential impact on the people in Seattle’s homeless community, who are disproportionately at risk,” said Doug Bowes, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Washington. “Joining forces with DESC will help ensure Seattle’s homeless residents continue to get the care and resources they need.”

The $1 million donation to DESC will help address workforce challenges, including purchasing personal protective equipment, hiring relief workers and supporting ill employees, as well as helping DESC safely provide food and temporary housing to many of the 8,000 homeless and formerly homeless individuals it serves. 

“DESC is committed to adapting to the pandemic to continue serving the homeless and formerly homeless people of Seattle,” said Daniel Malone, executive director, Downtown Emergency Service Center. “This partnership with the United Health Foundation will allow us to concurrently support our health workforce as well as safely serve the needs of our clients.”

UnitedHealth Group, including UnitedHealthcare, Optum and the United Health Foundation, has a long history of addressing homelessness and food insecurity — key determinants of health among vulnerable populations in Seattle and across the country. The United Health Foundation recently announced $5 million in national partnerships with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, the Feeding America network of member food banks, and Meals on Wheels America as part of its commitment to fight COVID-19 and support impacted communities.

About Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC)

The Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) provides integrated services, including housing, emergency shelter, crisis intervention and health care, to approximately 8,000 homeless and formerly homeless people in Seattle. Its mission is to end homelessness of vulnerable people, particularly those living with serious mental illness or substance use disorders.

About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health care company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.