The COVID-19 crisis is having profound financial impacts on families across the country and on the economy overall. With businesses shuttered, and over 22 million unemployment claims filed in the first month of the crisis alone, it is hard to overstate the financial instability and hardship the crisis has produced. These impacts will worsen over time, as immediate income shortfalls result in missed or late bill payments, adding late fees and related penalties to swelling debt burdens. Some families will lose their homes to eviction or foreclosure, either now, or when protections available to some renters and homeowners expire. High cost lenders will increase the hardship of those who succumb to the false hope these lenders provide.
Historically, crises disproportionately impact communities of color and low-to moderate income communities because of structural and institutional discrimination. The COVID-19 crisis is proving to be no different. Both people of color and lower-income earners face disproportionate crisis-related job and income loss—yet have less family and community wealth to tap into to soften the blow. These communities urgently need prompt and comprehensive relief.