Virginia Latino communities struggling during COVID-19 crisis, data says

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RICHMOND, Va. – The coronavirus is hitting one community especially hard – Latinos. National statistics show the number of Latinos out of work continues to rise.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18.5% of U.S Latinos are now unemployed – nearly one in five Latinos. The website adds that the situation in Virginia mirrors that of the nation.
Luis Aguilar is the Virginia Director for CASA, a non-profit that advocates for Latinos and low-wage workers. Aguilar says that federal, state, and local governments are not doing enough to support the Hispanic community during the pandemic.

A recent survey conducted by CASA polled 277 families to find out what areas Latinos need additional support in. The findings show:

  • 230 (83.9%) – Need support with rent
  • 166 (60.6%) – Need support with utilities
  • 160 (58.4%) – Need support with food

“We’ve seen an increase as an organization of folks reaching out to ask for rent, utilities, food access,” Aguilar said.

Thus far, the organization is serving 113 families with food distribution. CASA has also helped more than 300 families in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania with direct financial aid through their Solidarity Fund program. The program aims to help undocumented Latinos, who are ineligible for unemployment.

A study by the Economic Policy Institute shows that 16% (one in six Latinos) have jobs where they can work from home.

Aguilar says many Latinos have service sector jobs which were among the first to close when the coronavirus pandemic began. In order to make ends meet, Aguilar says many are becoming creative with entrepreneurial jobs to support their families even if it potentially means putting their own health at risk.

“Latinos are the ones doing the work that other people are not doing,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar says that’s why Latinos having access to healthcare is important.

“Free testing and treatment, we have to ensure regardless of immigration status, regardless of whether folks are insured or not, especially if they are not insured, we have to ensure that we are providing those services,” Aguilar said. “By not only by referring them to community clinics but by ensuring they have that access that they know those resources are available and they are getting to them.”

Aguilar hopes to soon see more assistance for one of the most vulnerable demographics as the health crisis continues.

“Right now, it’s a humanity aspect,” Aguilar said. “We’re supposed to be caring for one another. I think that’s the only way we’re going to get through this.”

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