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1 in 3 New Yorkers Are Unable to Pay Their Rent Due to COVID-19 Job Loss

New Yorkers are suffering from housing insecurity and racism, and they’re also struggling to homeschool children as the COVID-19 health crisis continues to wreak havoc on the state, according to a new survey from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy

In the fifth installment of an eight-part weekly tracking survey by the school, 1,000 New Yorkers reported just how the pandemic is impacting their day-to-day lives. Parents with lower levels of education (a high school degree or less) are having the most difficulty teaching their children from home — especially when online assignments are involved. 

“When it comes to schoolwork delivered on-line, families with fewer years of education and those responding in Spanish experience the greatest challenges,” CUNY SPH Dean Ayman El-Mohandes said, according to JHC Impact, the Journal of Health Communication blog where the survey was first published. 

“Their children risk falling behind in the future and deserve immediate attention.”

New York City is considered the American epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis, with more than 110,000 confirmed cases and nearly 8,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center

Along with food insecurity and mental health struggles, one in three New Yorkers reported being unable to pay their rent or mortgage in April due to job loss  — and 62% said they feared eviction. However, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order to suspend evictions until at least June. 

“If people don’t have employment — and obviously they have other costs like food and other necessities including possibly healthcare — it would be hard-pressed to know where people would get funds to pay rent or their mortage in the next few weeks,” CUNY SPH distinguished lecturer Professor Scott Ratzan tells SUM.

In addition to housing insecurity, 19% of surveyed New Yorkers said they “witnessed or experienced expressions of racism, violence, or harassment related to the coronavirus pandemic.”

“Asians were most likely to report incidents of racism, violence, or harassment at 25%,” the survey found. African Americans reported the second-highest rate of racist experiences.  

Still, many New Yorkers said they are hopeful that a vaccine will be available within the next six months. However, 47% of respondents said they either wouldn’t take a COVID-19 vaccine, or were unsure whether they would or not. 

“Yes, we’re really hopeful [about a vaccine]. But we have to get a vaccine that’s a viable vaccine. And a vaccine is only as good as the public uptake,” Ratzan says

“If the public are unwilling to take the vaccine, it’s not gonna solve the COVID crisis. People are wary of a vaccine and they may not take it, which should really concern public health experts.”

The survey series by CUNY SPH tracks attitudes and outcomes like employment, mental health, illness, and more related to COVID-19.