150 Days into COVID, New Report Reveals Persistent Staggering Unemployment and Housing Insecurity for Working-Class Immigrant, Black, and Brown NYers
Make the Road NY and Hester Street Survey Finds 66% Unemployed, 85% Worried About August Rent, and 98% of Undocumented Have Received Zero State, Federal Aid
Make the Road New York and Hester Street released a new report, “150 Days Later: Unemployed and Excluded,” that highlights the persistent economic devastation facing working-class immigrant, Black, and Brown communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Five months after the pandemic began, the organizations surveyed more than 200 community members whom they had initially surveyed at the virus’s peak.
The report finds that community members are still overwhelmingly unemployed and deeply concerned about paying rent, with 66% still out of work, close to 60% unable to pay rent for the past three months, and 85% concerned about paying August rent (the survey was conducted in late July). In addition, 98% of undocumented respondents and 60% of US citizen respondents report receiving no state or federal assistance. This is the first study in the COVID period, to the groups’ knowledge, to return to community members and gauge how persistent the economic damage has been.
The report (available for download here) concludes that immigrant, Black and Brown New Yorkers urgently need Gov. Cuomo to pass a billionaires’ tax, create a fund for excluded workers, and cancel rent.
“For several months now, I have been unemployed and worried every day about the health of my children, putting food on the table, and keeping a roof over our heads,” said Rosa Martinez, Make the Road New York member and Queens resident. “Families like mine have been left without work for months. While we suffer from food insecurity, staggering rent bills, and exclusion from economic relief, Governor Cuomo continues to choose his billionaire friends. Excluded workers like me urgently need relief.”
“Our people cannot work, they cannot pay rent, and they have been excluded from federal and state relief,” said Javier H. Valdes, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “Our communities urgently need Governor Cuomo to finally take action by taxing billionaires, providing real resources to excluded workers, and canceling rent.”
“Back in May, the data we gathered demonstrated that Black, Brown and immigrant communities were hit the hardest by the health impacts of COVID – with far too many people getting sick and losing loved ones,” said Betsy MacLean, Co-Executive Director of Hester Street. “Three months later, it’s clear that unless the government acts now, the very same communities will bear the brunt of the housing and economic impacts of the COVID crisis.”
Key statistics revealed in the report follow:
- 66% of respondents are still out of work.
- 74% of those who were out of work in May are still out of work.
- Of those who are working, 62% are working and/or earning less than they were pre-COVID.
- 65% of respondents have at least one additional adult in their household who is unemployed because of COVID-19.
- Close to 60% of respondents were not able to pay rent for May, June, and July.
- 85% were worried about being able to pay rent in August.
- One in five tenants report harassment or threats from their landlord.
Lack of State and Federal Government Relief
- 60% of US citizen respondents reported receiving no state or federal government assistance.
- 98% of undocumented respondents reported receiving no state or federal government assistance.
Statewide, more than two million working New Yorkers have lost employment since mid-March, with Black and brown communities suffering the most. Nearly 597,000 undocumented New Yorkers are completely shut out of unemployment benefits — despite contributing over $140M annually in unemployment taxes. Meanwhile, new data recently revealed the net worth of New York’s 118 billionaires increased by $77 billion during coronavirus, or 15%, from March 18th to May 15th. At present, New York’s 118 billionaires have a combined net worth of $600 billion.
Still, Governor Cuomo has thus far rejected widespread calls to raise any emergency revenue from the wealthiest New Yorkers. The state legislature is likely to return in late August, and there is a growing statewide chorus for a billionaires tax, excluded worker fund, and the cancelation of rent. Read coverage of the report in the NY Daily News.