Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: Article on Covid-19’s Impacts in LMI Communities in the Southeast US

April 16, 2020

A new article was posted to the Atlanta Fed’s website highlighting some ways the Covid-19 pandemic is already impacting low- and moderate-income households and communities in the Southeast. We wanted to share the article directly with you, given how invaluable the input you provided was in shaping the article. When our colleagues reached out to you in mid to late March to request interviews, we were grateful so many of you responded and offered us your time, despite all the competing demands you faced, including moving your organizations to remote work and accommodating large spikes in demand for services.

A link to the article can be found here. We hope you see some of your concerns reflected in the piece, and encourage you to share the piece widely with your own networks.

The article focuses on the immediate impacts the pandemic is having on workers, small businesses, and housing stability, as well as the organizational-level concerns of nonprofits and government agencies who sit at the front lines of the response. It highlights the lesson many of you said you had learned from the Great Recession: low- and moderate-income communities take longer to rebound from events like this pandemic and therefore recovery policies need to be designed with a long time horizon. The piece also invites its readers to think and act boldly to address these economic impacts in a way that strengthens the overall economic mobility and resiliency of households, and notes some areas of promising innovation across the Southeast, including actions taken by nonprofits, states and local governments, philanthropy, and lenders.

Some of the immediate economic impacts the piece highlights include:

  • Workers: Jobs and income losses were already being felt in most communities. Loss of childcare options was a strain on essential workers, and lack of healthcare access was a concern for both rural and urban households.  
  • Small business: Small businesses had very low cash reserves and were unsure they could weather the government mandated shut down of non-essential businesses, even though lenders (both banks and community-based lenders) were offering forbearance, deferrals and other types of support.
  • Housing: Despite the moratoriums and forbearance options announced by lenders or governments, concern that these measures were just temporary or did not cover a large enough share of the market. Therefore, evictions, homelessness, and foreclosure would likely be on the rise if actions were not taken to support renters and homeowners in a more lasting way.
  • Organizational capacity to respond: Both governments and nonprofits were seeing an increase in demand for services, but their revenues were uncertain or had declined. In some instances, they were making adjustments to the mix of services they were offering, and in others they were concerned they just would not be able to sustain operations without more financial support.

The CED program at the Atlanta Fed will continue to release articles and data tools on the pandemic’s economic impacts in low- and moderate- income communities, and have already posted pieces on:

If you have thoughts or suggestions on specific data, research, or best practices you would find valuable as you work to improve the economic conditions in underserved communities during the pandemic or as part of the recovery process, please feel free to share those ideas with us.Thank you again for taking the time to share the impacts COVID-19 is having on households, businesses and the economy. Please feel free to share the article widely across your networks and feel free to reach out to myself, Karen, Janelle or any other member of our team if you have any follow up questions.