The Community Action Organization of Western New York (CAO) promotes opportunities for individuals, families, and communities under the poverty level to achieve and sustain self-sufficiency. The challenges of living in poverty during the Covid-19 crisis have become more significant. The hurdles individuals, families, and communities face to achieve independence is more complex than ever before. Please review the 2017-2018 Community Needs Analysis Report and the 2018 Strategic Plan to get a greater understanding of the underlying community needs and strategic initiatives set in motion before the Covid-19 outbreak.
CAO mostly serves the urban population, and research shows that black Medicare patients with Covid-19 are nearly four times as likely to end up in the hospital. Early on during the Covid-19 outbreak data in Erie County indicated that cases clustered in black neighborhoods and that black patients represented a disproportionate share of Covid-19 deaths. In May 2020, per capita case counts were 88% higher in the county’s five majority-black ZIP codes than they were in the rest of the county.
There is, therefore, a critical need to teach the communities we serve best practices to minimize person-to-person contact, food preparations, home hygiene, and other tactics to reduce human to human transfer of Covid-19. Being able to supply these vulnerable communities with health and safety products is essential, all while implementing safe community spaces.
The United States faces tremendous financial challenges, and these challenges are amplified in the vulnerable communities we serve.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Buffalo has suffered the third-worst job loss in the nation because of Covid-19. There is a need to connect residents who have lost their job, or who have lost hours or wages due to the Covid-19 pandemic to employment opportunities in Western New York.
The eviction moratorium expires in January 2021. Individuals will have to face paying months of back rent. We need to increase resources and homelessness prevention for tenants and homeowners facing eviction or mortgage foreclosure in the foreseeable future.
As the unemployment rate increases and parents have limited access to childcare and education, the people we serve often don’t have access to food. They often cannot afford it or don’t live within walking distance to a grocery store. Many people lack access to personal care items, transportation in terms of a car, and other means to improve their quality of life.
Access to child care is essential for families to sustain themselves. However, these families are often caught in a dilemma; they can’t find affordable child care even if they work. We need to provide resources to help parents navigate their options to return to work.
Education is a critical component in improving the quality of life for individuals and families in the communities we serve. Roughly 54 million students across the United States cannot go to school because of the Covid-19 crisis, and an estimated 20 percent of those students do not have internet access. There is a need to increase the availability of distance learning through television analog broadcast educational programming, and to increase resources for parents and students grades K-12 who do not have access to the internet.
Research has revealed increased anxiety and decreased mental and physical health among our communities with these socio-economic circumstances. As people feel more isolated, stressed, and depressed due to the impact of Covid-19, addiction rates will likely increase.
To rebuild our vulnerable communities, small minority business owners need assistance in creating plans to survive the impact of Covid-19.