The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by surprise, leading to confusion, panic, illness, and significant loss of life.

In the United States, which has experienced the greatest documented loss of life due to the virus, Latinx, American Indian/Alaskan Natives and African Americans are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as White/Non-Hispanic persons, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC indicates that race and ethnicity are risk markers for other underlying conditions that affect health, including socioeconomic status, access to health care, and exposure to the virus related to occupation (e.g., frontline, essential, and critical infrastructure workers).

This disparate health reality is accompanied by the economic impact the pandemic has had on communities of color. The statistics illuminate racial disparities among Americans working in lower paying roles. These include public facing roles that compromise workers’ ability to socially distance and increase the likelihood of virus contact. Contributing to the economic impact of the pandemic, unemployment peaks in communities of color, soaring past Great Recession rates of 10%. Black workers are experiencing unemployment at around 16%, Hispanic workers at 13%, and American Indian/Alaskan Native workers at 15.1%, according to the Center for American Progress. Additionally, Latinx and Black families are seeing the highest rate of foreclosure during this time.

These statistics not only affect those who are housed, but have a profound impact on those who are experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. And given the disproportionately of people color among those who experience homelessness, these economic impacts should be at the forefront of homelessness systems’ minds when planning how to spend federal COVID-19 relief funds, especially Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHVs).

Read the full article about addressing homelessness equitably by Tashmia Bryant at National Alliance to End Homelessness.