Report outlines racial disparities in how Virginia’s families are getting by during the pandemic

Virginia News

Hands Across Middlesex Food Pantry volunteers load packed bags of food into vehicles at their drive up food pantry distribution center Tuesday April 28, 2020, in Locust Hill, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated people’s ability to meet basic needs, such as food and housing, but a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and nonprofit Voices for Virginia’s Children outlines how families of color in Virginia have struggled with these concerns at a disproportionate rate.

The report, titled Kids, Families and COVID-19: Pandemic Pain Points and the Urgent Need to Respond, utilized data from U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse surveys from Sept. 16 to Oct. 12.

According to the report, 13 percent of Virginia’s families with children reported that sometimes or often they did not have enough to eat. The national average was 14 percent.

“Virginia is faring better than the national average, but it doesn’t mean families are thriving,” Lauren Snellings, the research director for Voices for Virginia’s Children, said in an interview.

While Virginia’s rate increased by three percent since the beginning of the pandemic, the report showed that 25 percent of Black families in Virginia said they sometimes or often experienced not having enough food.

In terms of housing stability, 36 percent of Black families in the commonwealth reported having little or no confidence that they would make their next rent or mortgage payment on time. The average for Virginia’s families is 16 percent, two points less than the national rate.

Survey data from the Census Bureau also shows that 60 percent of Black families and 58 percent of Latino families with children in Virginia lost employment income since the onset of the pandemic. Forty-six percent of Virginia’s families with a child in the household reported losing income from a job.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation offered recommendations at the end of the Dec. 14 report – listed below — to address these concerns:

  • Put racial and ethnic equity first in response efforts
  • Help families with children achieve financial stability and bolster their well-being
  • Ensure schools are better and more equitably funded and ready to meet the needs of students disparately affected by the pandemic

Snellings said no matter what steps are taken next, issues concerning families, especially those who are struggling or vulnerable, can’t have a piecemeal solution. “We can’t just look at health care or housing, it has to reach across all areas.” 

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