The North Carolina Community Action Association (NCCAA) commissioned the report “Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Low-income Households and Communities in North Carolina” to “assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its efforts to combat poverty and facilitate self-sufficiency in low-income communities throughout the state.”
The COVID-19 pandemic had a disproportionate impact on low-income and rural communities in North Carolina. This report provides firsthand accounts and experiences from community leaders who have been on the frontlines of the pandemic.
The report features data collected from focus groups with individuals served by Community Action Agencies (CAAs), including interviews with selected leaders from five communities across the state. The research focused on these five themes:
- Behavioral responses to recommended protective measures
- Hardships and economic fallout
- Coping strategies
- Adequacy of relief measures
- Perception and beliefs about COVID-19 vaccines
COVID-19 forced low-income households to make difficult decisions regarding work, health and safety and the wellbeing of their families.
Quarantine meant that already struggling families lost out on income.
The transition to remote learning during the pandemic shed light on income disparities in the state. Working families had to set aside income for new bills like internet services, home classrooms and technology.
Family providers had new anxieties related to mental health, safety and financial gaps.
The workforce in North Carolina took a big hit due to the pandemic. The report states: “Pandemic-induced layoffs combined with caregiver responsibilities and personal health challenges have decimated the workforce.”
For those essential workers who were employed through the quarantine, they had an increased risk of bringing COVID-19 home to their families. Some essential workers serve as care providers for elderly or immunocompromised family members.
Stimulus checks, the advanced child-tax credit and other forms of financial assistance lended a helping hand to families, but these measures were not enough. According to the report: “Government safety-net programs were an important lifeline but fell short of addressing the range of assistance low-income households needed during the pandemic.”
COVID-19 has forced nonprofits and local governments to take a hard look at the ways in which they distribute funds and services to families in need.
Learn more about the disproportionate effects COVID-19 had on North Carolina working families in the report available here.