New Report Reveals COVID Devastation of PA’s Latinx Communities as Staggering Housing Insecurity and Unemployment Threaten Voting Rights

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Financial precarity and housing instability threaten Latinx and poor communities’ full participation in the Nov. 3 election, Make the Road PA urges federal stimulus and statewide eviction moratorium to defend civil rights and democracy

 

Today, Make the Road Pennsylvania and the Center for Popular Democracy released a new report, “Unemployed, Unhoused, and Unhelped: COVID-19’s Devastating Toll on Pennsylvania’s Latinx Communities,” highlighting the persistent and staggering economic devastation facing working-class immigrant and Latinx communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and offering specific policy recommendations to ensure Pennsylvanians are employed, housed, and supported, including a federal stimulus and a statewide eviction moratorium.

People struggling with housing costs are least likely to vote. Just two weeks ahead of the November 3 election, the financial precarity and housing instability outlined in the report threaten Latinx and poor communities’ full participation in the election: Voters will be unable to cast their ballot if they are on the verge of homelessness, and voters who have applied to vote by mail will face significant challenges if they have been forced to move since applying to vote by mail. Members and organizers urged Governor Tom Wolf to immediately reinstate the statewide eviction moratorium to protect crucial voting access, and called on Congress to pass a federal stimulus bill immediately.

Read the full report: https://populardemocracy.org/news/publications/unemployed-unhoused-and-unhelped-covid-19-s-devastating-toll-pennsylvania-s-latinx

 

Watch the bilingual press conference: https://www.facebook.com/354075204777711/videos/3356403771138964

 

Key statistics revealed in the report include:

 

Housing insecurity

  • 79% of renters and 85% of undocumented renters are worried they won’t be able to pay next month’s rent
  • 76% of respondents—and 88% of undocumented respondents—are worried they will be unable to pay for utilities and other bills

 

Unemployment and financial strain

  • 60% of respondents are still out of work due to the pandemic
  • Of those who are working, half are working fewer hours and one in four have had employers cut their pay
  • Nearly 50% of respondents are worried about having enough food

 

Lack of state and federal government relief

  • Only 15% of out of work respondents received unemployment insurance
  • 71% of respondents are currently uninsured with no access to healthcare

 

Said Patty Torres, Organizing Director for Make the Road Pennsylvania:

 

“Seven months into this pandemic, the stakes are high for our members and for our democracy. With the presidential election just two weeks away, and with mail-in voting already underway, Pennsylvanians need to know they can stay in their homes, where they are registered to vote, will receive their mail-in ballot, and be near their polling places. To do that, Governor Wolf must reinstate the statewide eviction moratorium. If Governor Wolf fails to act and allows a preventable avalanche of evictions to happen at the end of October—just days before the election—he puts our civil rights and our democracy at risk.”

 

Said Bertha Valezuela, a voter, poll worker, and Make the Road PA member at risk of eviction:

 

“As a cancer survivor and chemo patient, I’ve had a hard time paying my bills and my rent, and since the pandemic hit and I lost my job at a daycare, I could be evicted. I’ve been a voter and bilingual poll worker for many years, but if I get evicted, I don’t know how I’ll get to my polling location to cast my own vote, let alone help my neighbors and other Spanish speakers cast theirs. We need Governor Wolf to reinstate the statewide eviction moratorium so we can stay at home where we are safe, healthy, and close to the polls. My vote is my voice, and I don’t want eviction to rob me of that right.”

Said Yubelkis Tavarez, a voter and Make the Road PA member:

 

“Latino people may not go out to vote in these very important presidential elections, because the community has been severely impacted by this pandemic. It’s hard to make a plan to vote when you’re focused on surviving the day to day. A federal stimulus and a statewide eviction moratorium will give thousands of Pennsylvanians the security of knowing their basic needs will be met, so they can make a plan to vote.” 

Said Jimmy Peña a voter with health issues and Make the Road PA member: 

“I have health problems that make it dangerous for me to work through the pandemic, and choosing between my health and my income was impossible—how will my family eat or pay rent? Not being able to work shouldn’t be a death sentence. The government’s job is to protect us, and we need the federal and state government to step up and pass a stimulus package and an eviction moratorium so we can stay healthy at home, with all the resources we need to support our families.”

In Pennsylvania, more than 1.767 million households, or 31%, rent their homes. If even 20 percent are subject to eviction, then as many as 880,000 people in 355,000 households could lose their homes and in the process lose vital access to their mail-in ballot or polling location. A wave of evictions just days before the election would be especially devastating to poor communities, who face greater barriers to voting and are already suffering in Pennsylvania’s affordable housing crisis.

Pennsylvania’s communities of color have been hardest hit by the pandemic in terms of illness, death, and economic hardship. Data show Latinx community members are 7% of the Pennsylvania state population but make up 25% of COVID-19 cases and 6% of deaths, while Black Pennsylvanians make up 26% of COVID-19 cases and 21% of deaths while accounting for just 11% of the state population.

For interviews with Make the Road PA members on COVID’s impact on their community and why a statewide, indefinite eviction moratorium will protect their home and their right to vote, please contact Melissa McCleery at melissa@onrosehill.com or 484-201-3778.

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Make the Road Pennsylvania is the largest Latinx organization in the state of Pennsylvania, dedicated to organizing the working class in Latinx communities, building power for justice.