Jul 30, 2020 - Economy & Business

Pandemic forces YMCAs to close

A camper plays Minecraft at the Danvers YMCA Summer Camp in Danvers, Massachusetts, earlier this month. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

A camper plays Minecraft at the Danvers YMCA Summer Camp in Danvers, Massachusetts, earlier this month. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

The financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing YMCAs across the U.S. to close their doors.

Why it matters: In many communities, the local YMCA is a vital resource for youth in need of after-school activities, organized sports and summer camps. Local chapters also serve as food pantries and shelters during crises.

Driving the news: This week, the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities in Minnesota said it will close fitness centers in St. Paul, Lino Lakes and Prior Lake, and the organization is considering repurposing them as "community hubs," the StarTribune reports.

  • The Y in West Dallas also announced its closure, per the Dallas CBS affiliate. The closest Y location is 6 miles away, which is too far for children to travel after school or for families without cars.
  • The pandemic sped up the closure of a YMCA building in New Haven, Connecticut, which had been open since 1971, and was in need of expensive renovations. The community center is trying to build a new location, but has a long approval process ahead, per the New Haven Register.
  • In May, three Chicago-area Ys closed permanently due to the "enormous strain" from the coronavirus outbreak, per NBC5 Chicago.

Background: Many YMCAs were already struggling financially before the outbreak due to declining membership and increasing costs of maintaining old buildings.

What they're saying: "I'm very concerned, because like most nonprofits, most of our YMCAs don't have significant reserves," YMCA CEO Kevin Washington recently told Time. "We're sure that there will be some YMCAs that will not be able to survive."

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