This week we have the opportunity to hear from our Finance Director as she reflections on the past month as well as her hope for when this pandemic subsides.
Over the past month, the words “unprecedented, uncertain, and unusual” have been used a lot. These are words that never cease to cause me to pause. Personally, I thrive in situations where the “un” has been removed from those words; I like to be certain, predict, and study the situation until I understand it. What has hit home most through my reflection of the past month is that removing the “un” is a privilege I’ve enjoyed in many circumstances, or maybe it was an illusion that I could do those things at all.
I cannot look at history to produce projections for UHW to see what will happen, I can’t look at other places in the world where different pandemics have occurred to predict what the effects may be. The economics were different, and the societal structures and laws were different. It’s hard to know exactly what the outcome will be. A recent article from CNN stated that according to a study throughout the US, one-third of people who rent did not pay rent for April (the article did not differentiate between areas, demographics, but specifically did exclude subsidized housing.) Early numbers from Urban Homeworks show that about half of the rent charged for April has been paid, compared to about 63% in April 2019. This statistic, among many others, leads me to the conclusion that there is another, non-biological pandemic playing out. Minnesota is ranked as 47th in the nation when it comes to racial disparities. As this article from City Pages in 2019 shows, these disparities include but are not limited to the income gap, homeownership gap, and education gap between races. In these three categories, our highest ranking was 44th out of 51 (including Washington DC). If you’re a data nerd like myself, here is a link to US Census data that is specific to Minneapolis. Just one nugget I pulled out of this data is that of Minneapolis residents who were categorized as living in poverty, those who identify as Black make up the largest racial group at 35.5% as compared to those who identify as White which makes up 34.9% of those living in poverty. So, where’s the gap you might ask? Well, the data also shows that as of 2018, there were 3.08 times as many residents who identified as “White Alone” than any other race or ethnicity.
Similarly, there are disparities along gender lines when it comes to annual wages and individuals living in poverty. So it is no surprise that populations already plagued by a social pandemic are set even further back by a viral pandemic. When people cannot pay rent and subsidies aren’t enough or quick enough, maintaining safe, quality housing that people deserve becomes a significant challenge. Even in “normal times,” affordable housing is a tall task and one that does not produce much cash. In the nonprofit world currently, the most common advice is to determine which necessities to focus on, seek COVID relief from the government and funders, and cut down expenditures where possible, all of which we are doing and focusing on until the real impact is known and can be minimized.
Still, I’m incredibly grateful. I’m grateful for the most unpredictable thing in all of this: people. Relationships with family, friends, and coworkers are what keep us afloat in crazy times. People are the game-changer in life pre-pandemic and even more now as we navigate through this pandemic. It reminds me of a simple quote I heard from Mr. Rogers “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ “ Simple and true, we all need help at times, and we can all help at times. Whether it’s my neighbor, my friend, or my family, it does boil down to “Love one another as I have loved you,” and I hope I remember that when this pandemic calms down. Stay safe and connected out there!
Lissa Grabowski | Finance Director
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