Latino, Black families face multiple hardships during pandemic; White House working to provide relief

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Rose Carter, of Lexington, waits in a line outside a temporary unemployment office established by the Kentucky Labor Cabinet at the State Capitol Annex in Frankfort, Kentucky, U.S. June 17, 2020. (REUTERS/Bryan Woolston/File Photo)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Latino and Black children are facing disproportionate health and economic hardships due to the pandemic, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census Household Pulse Survey data reveals more than one in four Latino and Black households are facing multiple crises because of COVID-19. 

Hardships include unemployment, difficulty or inability to cover expenses, lapsed rent or mortgage payments, food scarcity, poor mental and physical health and more.

The report’s authors said it’s critical to consider these hardships in terms of the effects on children. 

“Research shows that the stress that families and parents experience definitely trickles down to their children, either indirectly through parent-child interactions or by the types of experiences that they’re able to provide, or directly,” Dana Thomson, a co-author of the report told NBC News.

The report found that Latino and Black families with children are undergoing hardships at twice the rate of Asian American and white children. The data reports that 13 percent of Asian American and 16 percent of white families with children are facing three or more hardships.

Researchers say the report is indicative of inequalities that are not merely income-based. 

The authors examined trends in low-income families and found the presence of racial disparities, although the difference is smaller compared to other income levels.

For example, 35 percent and 38 percent of low-income Hispanic and Black families are undergoing at least three hardships, whereas 30 percent of Asian American and 32 percent of white families with children are facing pandemic-related hardships. 

In El Paso, almost 20 percent of residents live in poverty and 23 percent of people under the age of 65 do not have health insurance, according to the Census Bureau. 

President Joe Biden is working on legislative packages designed to alleviate the hardships faced by many families, such as those in the Borderland.

The American Rescue Plan is a $1.9 trillion relief package meant to provide economic recovery for families and businesses, as well as address racial inequalities. 

“Like anything in public health,” said Carlos Algara, professor of political science at UTEP, “the pandemic disproportionately affects communities of color. I think what the administration is trying to do is level the playing field.”

White House data shows more than 35 million Americans are struggling with food insecurity. One in 10 Black and one in 11 Latino workers are unemployed.

The plan will address the hunger crisis by asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to enhance and extend federal nutrition assistance programs and also ensure unemployed Americans do not have to choose between paying their bills or providing for their families by asking the U.S. Department of Labor to clarify that workers who will not work in unsafe conditions are still eligible for unemployment benefits. 

The American Rescue Plan is making its way through Congress, but delays mean lives are on the line as Democrats and Republicans discuss.

“The longer it takes to delay, the less help in a less timely manner,” Algara said. “When we think about Democrats and Republicans fighting it out with one another, we generally forget they’re fighting for people’s livelihoods — that time doesn’t stop.”

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