Our communities are reeling from COVID-19 and the crisis it has unleashed. This has been one of the most difficult periods in the more than two decades that Make the Road New York has worked to support and organize immigrants and Black and Brown New Yorkers. Speaking to thousands of community members each week in the communities where we work in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Long Island, and Westchester, far too many members and their loved ones have contracted the virus and died. We hear daily from workers who have lost their jobs, are excluded from accessing Unemployment Insurance and all other income supports, and do not know how they will be able to buy groceries or pay the rent. We hear, too, from front-line workers who face the risk of contracting the virus at their work sites, where they labor without adequate protections.
As a community organization dedicated to meeting the needs of our members and neighbors, while also fighting for policies that address structural problems, we have provided direct cash and food assistance. We have created virtual community spaces to maintain connection and purpose among our members.
We have counseled families in their grief from a distance – one of the cruelest aspects of the disease. We never thought we’d have to provide step-by-step support for community members making final arrangements for their loved ones, but that is the reality we face. But community organizations can only do so much given very scarce resources. As this report demonstrates, the public health, economic, and housing crisis continues, and the unmet needs of immigrants, Black, and Brown communities are simply staggering. The report examines in detail the experience of working-class immigrant, Black and Brown New Yorkers during this crisis. Based on a survey of 244 primarily Latinx immigrants across New York City, Long Island, and Westchester, one third of whom are undocumented, it provides striking findings related to the pandemic’s toll on community members’ health, income and work, housing insecurity, and education.
As the only survey to date focused on the experiences of immigrant New Yorkers reported in their own words, the quantitative and qualitative data provide powerful insight into the scale of this crisis and the depth of its impact across immigrant communities.