These types of disasters always unearth all that we hide here in the US–the staggering poverty, inequality, etc. I’ve even been thinking a lot about the luxury of social distancing, about those who can’t separate themselves from their families and members of their community. I think about DHA [Durham Housing Authority] residents and all that they’ve been dealing with and now this. How are they being taken care of?L’Tanya Durante, DataWorks’ Data Action Coordinator
At DataWorks, we have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak, and we’re sure you have too. These are stressful times, and we want the communities we serve to know we are here as a resource. Historically marginalized communities are often already dealing with disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards, gentrification, and economic pressures. This outbreak, like weather disasters and recessions, hits hardest within them.
Our priorities at DataWorks are to protect the health and livelihoods of the communities we serve. If you are part of a community in need of community resources because of changes from the COVID-19 outbreak, please reach out to us! https://dataworks-nc.org/contact/
How the COVID-19 outbreak intersects with the issues we work on at DataWorks:
A lot of our recent work has focused on housing in Durham. We convened a series of conversations about evictions called Who Owns Durham? We shared data about corporate ownership of housing in Durham and heard residents’ concerns about affording rent and risk of eviction.
The COVID-19 outbreak is leaving many in Durham without work, exacerbating difficulties paying rent or mortgage. Durham residents experiencing housing instability may also be at greater risk of infection, as it affects ability to participate in social distancing.
Social distancing requirements will leave many in some of Durham’s main employment sectors (food service, retail) unable to work. In Durham more than 30,000 people work in food service and retail, where average weekly wages have not grown in 20 years.
Workers in the health sector, in which the greatest number of Durham’s workers are represented, are at highest risk of exposure to COVID-19. Disparities in risk emerge within the health sector as well. In the US, 78% of healthcare sector workers are female. Some of the most vulnerable occupations, like health aides, are disproportionately People of Color–37% of health aides are Black, while Black workers represent only 12% of the entire healthcare sector. Severe COVID-19 disease and mortality are occurring most frequently in elder care facilities. 27% of nursing care workers are Black.
Employment sectors by race and sex sourced from https://www.bls.gov/
As schools close, students are left with gaps in their education, and parents are left without childcare or homeschooling support.
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, residents are of course concerned about risk of exposure to the virus. Immuno-compromised individuals, and people with diseases that require immuno-suppressing medicines are at high risk for COVID-19.
Additionally, other health issues become a lower priority. Some clinical facilities may need to be repurposed for COVID-19 response, and routine care will need to change to prevent transmission. Things like quality care for fertility planning and dialysis are likely to become more difficult.
Resources we offer and recommend:
In our main data tool, the Durham Neighborhood Compass, we are tracking data related to privilege and vulnerability in housing (e.g., cost-burdened renters, cost-burdened mortgage holders, tax value change) by neighborhood and year.
We also have a page dedicated to questions about evictions, which came out of our Who Owns Durham? events. These resources respond to individuals being evicted (e.g., how does evictions court work?) and concerns about root causes of evictions (e.g., who is being affected by evictions?)
The Neighborhood Compass has information about the locations of childcare facilities.
DataWorks’ Health Indicators site has a number of resources related to health, parenting, access to outdoor exercise, and mental/spiritual support. This site may be of interest to folks at this time, as it references neighborhood-specific resources and services in Durham.
Finally, if you are able and interested in helping those in need, we encourage you to get involved in Durham neighborhood Mutual Aid groups (or start one in your neighborhood) and contribute to funds directly supporting impacted workers like the NC Solidarity/DSA mutual aid fund! If you know people who can benefit from that fund, share this intake form with them.