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Starting the Conversation: How COVID-19 is Affecting Housing, Minorities and Health Disparities

Portrait shot of business owner putting a closing down poster into a window during Covid 19 outbreak

By now, we’ve all heard of (and maybe experienced firsthand) the significant obstacles and impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our families, jobs and communities. The unforeseen challenges have been nothing short of overwhelming. Not only have these challenges affected our personal lives, but they’ve also impacted affordable housing, small businesses and health disparities. We at the Initiative want to spark the conversation around these topics. That’s why we’ve put together a list of articles to inform you about the issues at hand.

The Impact on Housing and Rent:

CityLab,Cancel the Rent’ Could Be Just the Beginning: The Our Homes, Our Health initiative started a campaign to pressure lawmakers to suspend rent and mortgage payments across the nation during this pandemic. 


The NY Times, #CancelRent Is New Rallying Cry for Tenants. Landlords Are Alarmed: Tenants rights groups and community nonprofits have been rallying to convince the government to stop rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the coronavirus. This has, in turn, launched the movement #CancelRent.

The Impact on Small Businesses and Minorities:

The Washington Post, Covid-19 could devastate minority-owned businesses: This article explains the unfortunate reality that minority business owners may be especially vulnerable to the economic downfall caused by the pandemic because they are less likely to have a financial cushion.

Marketplace, Minority-owned businesses struggle to access emergency loans: The story of a small business owner who wasn’t able to obtain a Paycheck Protection Program loan – a barrier that many other black-owned businesses have also faced.

The Institute has published several press releases and publications about supporting diversity and small businesses. Check them out!

Golden LEAF, Golden LEAF deploys $15M in funding to launch NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program: In March, The Golden LEAF Foundation announced $15 million in funding to launch a rapid recovery loan program in response to the financial losses related to COVID-19. This fund was quickly exhausted, which led to the additional loan in May (see next list item).

WRAL TechWire, Golden LEAF offers another $125M in COVID-19 disaster loans for small businesses: Following the NC General Assembly’s passage of a COVID-19 pandemic relief bill that was signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper, Golden LEAF has issued another $125M in loans for small businesses. “The significant volume of applications in the pipeline is indicative of the severity of the statewide economic impact COVID-19 has had on North Carolina’s small businesses,” said Golden LEAF Foundation President Scott T. Hamilton.

You can read more coverage about this additional loan and the importance of it for small businesses and minorities in the article by YES! Weekly here.

The Impact on Health Disparities: 

NC Policy Watch, Experts: COVID-19 pandemic highlights NC’s existing health disparities, health care weaknesses: Life-threatening problems in which people of color have less access to good medical care was a problem prior to COVID-19, but is even more of a dangerous issue during this pandemic. This article lays out some shocking statistics.

Urban Institute, COVID-19 Racial Health Disparities Highlight Why We Need to Address Structural Racism: It is important to go beyond the underlying health issues that affect African Americans to examine the root cause of racial disparities. Structural racism results in unequal access to health, which has been a large eye-opener throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

WBTV, North Carolina lawmakers tackle health disparities in the COVID-19 pandemic: 39% of people dying in NC who had coronavirus are black. African Americans make up roughly 21% of the state’s population. The spotlight is on this issue and the NC House Select Health Care committee is ready to draft a bill to address it.  

The bottom line is that COVID-19 has swarmed our world with numerous issues that have impacted us all – though some have been impacted more severely than others due to the underlying issues of inequality. The hope during this challenging time would be that our eyes are opened to the inequities and disparities that have come from it so that together, we can raise awareness and create change, in times of crisis and in the “normal” times as well.

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NCI in Partnership with Reinvestment Partners