BOSTON — The state is setting up a new relief fund with $13 million available for "vulnerable" populations dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker said the fund is aimed at helping people who face homelessness, hunger and the loss of services due to the pandemic, and also will support health care professionals and first responders.

Baker said the goal is to connect groups that have years of experience with raising money and serving communities with "those who are going to have the hardest time working through and dealing with all of the economic consequences and public health consequences associated with this particular virus."

The fund, which was launched by Baker's wife, Lauren, and Joanna Jacobson, president of the One8 Foundation, will be administered by Eastern Bank at no cost. Money for the effort will be distributed to nonprofits and charitable organizations throughout the state.

Lauren Baker said the fund will help "vulnerable communities who face issues like food and housing insecurity and the loss of critical services."

"There are a lot of communities across Massachusetts where even in the best of times, people struggle," she said. "These are communities where families live paycheck to paycheck. And they've been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 health crisis."

Jacobson said the collaborative effort seeks to address statewide COVID-19-related issues, particularly in low-income communities that lack access to capital.

"It will not be a magic answer to everything, but if we do this well, if we do this together, we can have an impact," she said.

There are no specific fundraising goals for the new fund, but Lauren Baker told reporters "the sky is the limit for how much we would like to raise."

"We have no idea where this is going to go, but we know that the need will be incredible," she said. "The more money we can raise, the more money we can push out into communities where there is significant need and make life better for people."

For more information: https://www.macovid19relieffund.org/.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites.

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