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Carrie GermerothMarzano Research

A needs assessment conducted by Mi Casa Resource Center (MCRC), a Latinx focused organization that educates, trains, and supports youth, adults, and families on their path to success in education, employment, and business ownership, made clear the devasting impact that the COVID-19 crisis had on low-wage workers, micro-business owners, and their community in the early days of the pandemic. But more importantly, the needs assessment gave MCRC a tool to better understand its clients’ needs and focus on strategies that will support them through a seemingly endless storm of economic inequities.

“This crisis is a double whammy for Denver’s low-income families,” said Monique Lovato, chief executive officer of MCRC. “Not only are they the most vulnerable to falling ill, they are also suffering the most severe economic losses in the early days of the pandemic. Add to that the inevitable dramatic cuts to the state budget, including to safety net programs, and many families are in serious trouble.”

This crisis is a double whammy for Denver’s low-income families. Not only are they the most vulnerable to falling ill, they are also suffering the most severe economic losses in the early days of the pandemic. Add to that the inevitable dramatic cuts to the state budget, including to safety net programs, and many families are in serious trouble.

~ Monique Lovato, CEO of MCRC

Since the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, MCRC has been working to connect low-wage workers and microbusiness owners with resources to meet their basic needs and secure their future. MCRC has provided support with applications for small-business grants, applications for unemployment insurance, and methods to continue generating income both during and after the crisis. It became apparent that, to ensure the best use of resources, a comprehensive needs assessment was imperative.

MCRC staff immediately reached out to 2,000 participants in the Business Pathways and Career Pathways programs to better understand their needs and collect data that would help to focus resources during the initial phase of the pandemic. To better understand the data they collected, MCRC partnered with Marzano Research, who provided analysis and recommendations.

Mi Casa Community Needs Survey ReportThe results were as concerning as they were evident. Specific industries deemed “nonessential” along with low-income and minority populations were shown to be more vulnerable to the loss of business and income than others  Among respondents in the Business Pathways program, 39% reported losing business, and another 16% were reportedly on the brink of failure, due to social distancing in the wake of COVID-19. In addition, 85% of the Business Pathways respondents who cited loss of business or closures were earning revenue of $60,000 or less. Additionally, the needs assessment found that respondents who received the lowest wages and had the least education were the most likely to report being laid off, while those who were Africa American (35%) or Hispanic/Latino (26%) more frequently suffered job loss than those who were white (17%)

“The data paint a grim and unequal picture,” said Monique Lovato, chief executive officer of MCRC. “We’ve seen data nationally that show the pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on the health and finances of Latinos and African Americans—and it’s clear from these findings that this is also true in Colorado, with women taking a particularly hard hit.”

MCRC staff are using this information to not only better target their current resources but also work with community stakeholders and advocacy groups to enhance resources and advocate for deeper systemic reforms.

To read the full Community Needs Assessment Report on the MCRC website, click here.