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EXCLUDED IN THE EPICENTER: Make the Road NY and Hester Street Report Highlights Extraordinary Impact of COVID-19 on Working-Class Immigrants and Black and Brown New Yorkers

In a survey of 244 community members finds one in six has lost a family member, nine out of ten have suffered household job or income loss, and nine out of ten worry about being able to pay rent.

Make the Road New York and Hester Street released a groundbreaking new report today highlighting the extraordinary damage on working-class immigrant, Black and Brown New Yorkers by COVID-19. The report “Excluded in the Epicenter”, presents data from a quantitative and qualitative survey of 244 New Yorkers, primarily Latinx immigrants, and finds that one in six has lost a family member to COVID-19, nine out of ten have suffered household job or income loss, and nine out of ten worry about being able to pay rent.

Despite the concentrated impact of the crisis in these communities, residents have been overwhelmingly excluded from government solutions. While 72% of survey respondents reported losing their jobs due to COVID-19, less than 6% had received unemployment insurance in the past month, and only 15% of respondents reported receiving any government support at all during the crisis.

Our Co-Executive Director, Betsy MacLean, said: “The report makes plain that this was a crisis long in the making. The devastation in particular neighborhoods is the result of long-standing health and economic inequities. Now is our chance to make it right: we must do better, and those communities most impacted must lead the way.”

Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, said: “We are seeing and hearing about devastation in our communities every day: community members sick and dying, and workers left without income wondering how they will feed their children, and newly-unemployed tenants desperately worried about being able to pay the rent. Amidst this crisis, it’s outrageous and infuriating how both Washington and Albany continue to exclude our communities.”

The report provides policy recommendations at the state, federal, and local level to ensure a recovery for all. At the state level, the report highlights the importance of passing a tax on New York’s 112 billionaires to create a $3.5B fund for excluded workers, taking immediate action to cancel rent, and freeing incarcerated and detained New Yorkers at grave risk of contracting the virus. At the federal level, the report urges Congress to take dramatic action to support all workers and tenants, regardless of immigration status, with urgently needed economic recovery funding.

Perla Silva is a Make the Road New York member and Brooklyn resident. She lost her mother to COVID-19, and everyone else in her family besides her has lost their job during this crisis. She explained: “We need a Recovery for All. One that puts people first by making sure everyone has access to the health care they need, without huge hospital bills. One that provides the relief we need to be able to feed our children during this crisis. And one that cancels rent to make sure we don’t get kicked out of our homes. This crisis has taken away the most precious person in the world to me: my mother. Nothing can make up for that. The least that our elected officials can do is respond with a real recovery for all that treats us with the respect and dignity that we deserve.”

Mariuxi Lala, a youth member of Make the Road New York from Central Islip whose uncle is trapped in Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention, said: “I’m extremely worried about my uncle, as we’ve had difficulty contacting him and making sure he’s okay. In this moment, we need to depopulate jails, prisons, and detention centers. The Governor must take action to free them all, and begin immediately to release those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 from these jails, prisons, and ICE detention centers. As this pandemic rages, we need a halt to ICE activity across New York State, so more people don’t end up in these deadly cages.”