A new report shows that the COVID-19 recession has households in the Mountain West facing high hardship rates, especially when it comes to rent and food security.
Across the region, an average of about 36% of households with children are either behind on rent or haven't had enough to eat at some point during the pandemic, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The center's research shows that the pandemic has been especially devastating for Black, Latino, Indigenous and immigrant families. It points to structural racism as a reason for the disparities – in education, employment, housing, and health care – and says that the current crisis is exacerbating inequalities.
"It's very, very hard for parents who are already struggling, especially in the Latino and the African American communities, when the things that are sustaining them have been taken away," said Kathryn Jones, head of the African American Chamber of Commerce in Boise.
Jones points to the loss of meals at school, for example.
"You take out school, because they can't go now, so now you have to figure out how to feed everybody," she said.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says households with children that face very high hardship rates "can have serious effects on children's long-term health and financial security."
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.