A new report from the Community Service Society of New York examines the hardships the Latinx community is currently facing a year into COVID-19 recovery. The report, A Spotlight on Latina/o/x Hardships, stems from “The Unheard Third” survey, a survey used to better understand the needs and views of New Yorkers.
The report reviews challenges such as housing, food insecurity, personal finances, work precarity, transportation affordability and health.
Although Mayor Eric Adams announced major reforms to the the City Family Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement voucher program, including expanding eligibility, and expanding the housing mobility program to allow access to more apartments across New York City, these reforms may not be enough.
“CityFHEPS has the real potential to be a powerful tool against homelessness for all New Yorkers, regardless of race or ethnicity,” said Emerita Torres, vice president of policy, research and advocacy at CSS. “And I think that they're a step in the right direction, but they do fall short of pressing the program's core deficiencies. One is the bureaucracy. It's punishingly complicated for someone to go through the CityFHEPS process. Also, many private landlords, flagrantly violate the law without penalty, we've seen that in many cases. And then finally, the program has very stringent criteria that leave many vulnerable New Yorkers, including like Latinos, without a roof over their head.”
Over 40% of Latinx New Yorkers have reported they struggled to pay for transit. Although the city has the Fair Fares NYC program for low-income New Yorkers to receive a discount of 50% off subway and eligible bus fares, 59% of the eligible Latinx New Yorkers have not applied for the program. And of these, 15% said they did not even know about the program.
“Not enough people know about Fair Fares, and that's to do with the government's ability to promote it and to provide new resources so that it's promoted, not just at train stations and bus stops, but also very locally in communities. For example, with vaccines during the pandemic, where you had trucks outside vaccinating people, testing people, we need similar street outreach for Fair Fares and for benefits programs across the board.” said Torres.
The report also shows the Latinx community is struggling to receive adequate healthcare, with 38% reporting that they experienced either postponing medical care, not filling a prescription or not having medical insurance.
“In the long run, if patients don't feel comfortable seeking health care because of immigration status, or because they don't have insurance, or they can't afford co pays for specialty visits, it can mean that they are deferring or delaying necessarily health care and delaying opportunities to learn and create preventative plans that would help keep them healthier in the outcome in in the long run” said Dr. Navarra Rodriguez, president and chief medical officer for AdvantageCare Physicians.
“In order to really establish a path towards good health outcomes for our community, it is critical for New Yorkers to at least have an opportunity to engage with a primary care physician or a primary care provider,” said Rodriguez. “Because to tackle things like social determinants of health and seek that health expertise, especially for pregnant patients, or expecting parents, it requires a connection to the healthcare system that can often be uncomfortable and expensive for patients.”
With gig work being one of the main sources of income to the Latinx community, it can create hardships when it comes to receiving time off for medical visits and health insurance coverage. It also creates for a financial precarious situation, with 54% worried about making ends meet
"all or most of the time."
A solution, according to Torres, is to ensure that there are more job training programs implemented.
“We need more programs there that bridge the gap so that Latinos, whether English is not their first language, or whether they’re newly arrived, can have the opportunity to join the workforce in a more fulfilling way where they can they can have a full time job and don't have to have a precarious situation.”
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