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  • We turn our attention now to the low-income Americans who are bearing the brunt of the

  • coronavirus fallout.

  • John Yang explains how the pandemic is hitting hard families who are already struggling.

  • This reporting is part of Chasing the Dream, our ongoing coverage of poverty and opportunity

  • in America.

  • JOHN YANG: Detroit, already facing steep economic and racial inequalities, has emerged as a

  • coronavirus hot spot.

  • Janine Cain (ph) is a mother of five on the city's East Side.

  • JANINE CAIN, Detroit: My husband actually was laid off immediately as soon as the pandemic

  • started, because he works in a restaurant. And I was working two jobs, and I was laid

  • off from my second job.

  • JOHN YANG: Cain's worried whether she will be able to keep her job as a home health care

  • worker, the family's only remaining source of income.

  • JANINE CAIN: We are going to still have to operate as if we have the bare minimum.

  • JOHN YANG: She is also concerned about her family's safety as tensions run high their

  • neighborhood.

  • JANINE CAIN: The neighbors have been fighting each other. It has not been easy to, you know,

  • just explain to the children that a lot of people are coping with this pandemic in different

  • ways.

  • JOHN YANG: The Downtown Boxing Gym, a local after school program, delivers food and supplies

  • twice a week. Now it's become a full-time crisis relief program for the entire community.

  • JANINE CAIN: If it weren't for the Boxing Gym, I'd probably be in tears every day trying

  • to figure out how we're going to eat or get supplies.

  • JOHN YANG: Both emotional and economic support are needed, says the head of the gym, Jessica

  • Hauser.

  • JESSICA HAUSER, Executive Director, Downtown Boxing Gym: It's pretty terrifying for just

  • about every family that we're working with. And they're trying so hard to keep their kids

  • in a good place and stable and not worry their kids, while their entire life is falling apart.

  • JOHN YANG: The Cain children still gather for the gym's nightly workout sessions, but

  • now they're held over Zoom.

  • JESSICA HAUSER: It gives them a moment to connect with all their -- you know, their

  • friends and peers and see that everybody's OK and healthy.

  • JOHN YANG: Missing from those nightly check-ins, some of their peers who don't have home Internet

  • or computers.

  • In Los Angeles, families pick up meals outside shuttered public schools.

  • Lisette Bonilla says every day is a struggle.

  • LISETTE BONILLA, Los Angeles (through translator): This happened from one day to the other. I'm

  • not prepared. And it's scary, because we don't know how long it's going to last.

  • JOHN YANG: Meanwhile, bills are piling up.

  • Maria Jorge is the mother of three.

  • MARIA JORGE, Los Angeles (through translator): I'm cutting my spending as much as possible,

  • because I have to pay rent, bills, and with everything that's going on.

  • JOHN YANG: Not knowing how long the crisis could last adds stress for families and for

  • the schools the children had been attending.

  • Austin Beutner is the superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District.

  • AUSTIN BEUTNER, Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District: When we started,

  • we said it's two weeks and that we will share more as we know what the path forward is.

  • JOHN YANG: In Detroit, Janine Cain is struggling to provide a sense of normalcy for her family,

  • as the effects of the virus get closer and closer.

  • JANINE CAIN: People in the neighborhood are coming up saying, oh, I just lost a cousin.

  • I got a few co-workers that actually lost some of their relatives to it.

  • JOHN YANG: She doesn't know how long will her family be able to endure their new reality.

  • JANINE CAIN: I'm also hoping that this won't last long, and so that we don't have to lose

  • our jobs, without -- I don't know what the backup plan is.

  • JOHN YANG: Even before the pandemic, estimates were that 44 percent of the households in

  • Southeastern Michigan could not meet their most basic needs.

  • In the city of Detroit itself, that figure is even higher, 74 percent.

  • Darienne Hudson is CEO of the United Way of Southeastern Michigan. And she joins us by

  • Skype.

  • Darienne, thanks so much for being with us.

  • We heard in the tape sort of a snapshot of one family in Detroit, what's going on in

  • their household.

  • Give us the bigger picture. What is it like for people on the ground in Southeastern Michigan

  • right now?

  • DARIENNE HUDSON, CEO, United Way for Southeastern Michigan: Well, thank you for having me here.

  • This is a time of great uncertainty, frustration. I would say that there is an overload of information,

  • and yet you still have thousands of people who don't know how to access it.

  • The numbers that you were just sharing are from our call center 211, and we have received

  • over 20,000 calls just this last month, based on the pandemic. But the main call that we

  • are still getting is for food.

  • So, in spite of all the things we're hearing about the public health crisis, it is still

  • those most basic needs that people are trying to attain.

  • JOHN YANG: So it's still the basic problems they were having before this pandemic?

  • DARIENNE HUDSON: Absolutely.

  • This pandemic has magnified the problems that people were already having, whether it's utility

  • assistance, rental assistance, trying to attain and sustain gainful employment. Now many people

  • are out of work, and it's just exacerbated the problems we have had.

  • JOHN YANG: And to what extent is this sort of -- sort of -- you say it's exacerbating

  • the problem.

  • Is it sort of building on them? Is it exposing problems that already were there? How does

  • this compounding -- putting this health crisis on top of this -- ongoing economic problems

  • in these communities, how is that affecting it?

  • DARIENNE HUDSON: Sure, in a few ways.

  • One, I will give you the example of the digital divide that we're seeing in our schools. Now

  • that our schools are closed through the end of the year, it's revealing just how many

  • families are without Internet access. Detroit is one of the least connected cities in the

  • country.

  • In terms of health disparities, African-Americans, we are 14 percent of the state of Michigan,

  • but we are 41 percent of the deaths that have happened from COVID-19.

  • And so, when you compound poverty, when you compound systemic racism, and then you're

  • looking at what's happening with the pandemic, it is -- it's not a surprise, unfortunately,

  • that these are happening, these things are happening for us.

  • JOHN YANG: And this pandemic, how is it affecting the United Way groups that you work with,

  • the organizations that you work with? How is it affecting their ability to deliver services?

  • DARIENNE HUDSON: Nonprofit organizations, governmental entities have been deeply impacted,

  • based on this pandemic.

  • We have actually galvanized with our corporate and philanthropic community to raise over

  • $8 million to help provide operational grants for many of our nonprofits. Now we have funded

  • over 220 in our community.

  • But there are many people who are still on the front lines providing food, providing

  • shelter, providing resources for the community, in spite of this setback. But the world as

  • we know it in terms of nonprofits is going to be forever changed as a result of this

  • pandemic, for the main reason that many of their fund-raisers have been canceled now.

  • Much of their work is service-based. It's fee-for-service. It's face-to-face. Now they're

  • having to change to virtual means to be able to deliver those services. So, the landscape

  • has changed drastically. We're galvanizing and working together in ways that we never

  • have before.

  • But the needs are just continuing to grow. They are not going away.

  • JOHN YANG: As you think about the people who rely on the services provided by organizations

  • under the United Way umbrella, what is your greatest concern? What keeps you up at night?

  • DARIENNE HUDSON: My greatest concern really is access.

  • There are still too many people who don't have some of the most basic of Internet services.

  • They don't have telephones. They don't have transportation.

  • So, even with, you know, hundreds of food distribution sites set up around the city,

  • with all of our testing sites that we have around the city of Detroit now, access to

  • those resources is still a challenge.

  • Many of our nonprofits deliver face-to-face services. We are all having to adapt to the

  • way we provide those services. And so knowing that there are still just thousands of people

  • who can't access any of the resources that we're pulling together on their behalf at

  • this time is very unsettling.

  • I will say, it's why we fight. It is why we get up in the morning to continue to do the

  • good work. So, as long as United Way is standing, we will continue to fight for those who do

  • not -- not have at this time.

  • JOHN YANG: Darienne Hudson, CEO of the United Way of Southeastern Michigan, thank you very

  • much.

  • DARIENNE HUDSON: Thank you, John. It's nice to meet you.

We turn our attention now to the low-income Americans who are bearing the brunt of the

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B1 中級 美國腔 武漢肺炎 新型冠狀病毒 新冠肺炎 COVID-19

COVID-19是如何加劇底特律的貧困和種族不平等的? (How COVID-19 is exacerbating Detroit's poverty and racial inequality)

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    Shin-Chung Huang 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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