Our Unequal Pandemic
The disproportionate effect on black Americans is clear.
These uneven consequences of the pandemic grow even more pronounced when it comes to our own clients, people with and without homes, returning citizens, and families with extreme food insecurity. As the pandemic drew on, we saw Thrive DC’s weekly grocery distribution triple in numbers, employment assistance increase, and many new faces show up in line for our hot meals to-go.
Throughout the pandemic, we have served hundreds of extra people each week outside our doors and over 2,000 individuals and families through distributing food to mutual aid networks and other pantry partners. These new clients are predominately people of color.
Our clients without a home have been particularly hard hit. We knew that our clients were nervous about using shelters, concerned about exposure to COVID-19 in cramped quarters. Now, during this winter season, many DC residents have no choice but to go to packed shelters, where COVID-19 rates are much higher. In DC alone, almost 1 in 10 people experiencing homelessness have tested positive for coronavirus, and at least 24 have “officially” died from contracting the virus. These are just reported numbers, from a community that is extremely hard to count and track.
Black residents make up 87% of adults experiencing homelessness in DC.
The pandemic has exposed many inequalities in our city and across our country that are impossible to ignore. Black and Brown Americans have not suffered worse under COVID-19 because of inherent differences, but because of social constructs and a history that has primed our clients to fare worse. And as the pandemic has affected communities unequally, our response will be heavily weighted on issues affecting those most impacted; our response must seek to level the playing field.
Over the next few weeks, Thrive DC will be publishing a series of articles that examine the unequal ways the pandemic has affected our communities. We will take brief looks at the pandemic through the lenses of Housing, Employment, and Healthcare. At the end of each article, we will suggest some broad policy solutions that can address the injustice we’ve seen our clients experience and proactively work toward preventing these disparities from happening again.
Thank you for following along! If these articles inspire you and you would like to be an effective partner to Thrive DC, consider joining our Next Step Team as a monthly donor. These steady donations that support our day to day operations also give us the stability to push for transformative policy changes on behalf of our clients.