Nevada’s Excluded Communities:

Key Findings from a COVID-19 Community Impact Survey

Nevada’s communities of color and immigrant communities are being hard hit by the COVID-19 cases, Make the Road Nevada (MRNV) launched an impact survey to more fully understand the public health and economic crises facing people of color and immigrants across the state.  MRNV conducted in-depth surveys with nearly 150 Nevadans in July 2020. 

Economic Crisis in NV

One in three survey respondents currently working has seen a reduction in hours during the pandemic.

Among the people currently working, many have seen their hours or pay cut and many report a lack of paid sick days. Black workers were almost three times as likely, and Latinx workers were twice as likely to have their hours cut resulting in an increasing need for financial support. This not only leaves working people financially precarious but means they are unable to take time off if they are sick.

Unemployment in NV during Covid-19

Nevada saw the highest unemployment rate in the nation with 30% of people out of work during the pandemic, with our essential workers being excluded from federal relief. A staggering 70% of all survey respondents—and 86% of estimated undocumented individuals—reported that they or someone in their household lost a job or income since the coronavirus crisis began. 

Black respondents were hardest hit, with 67% currently out of work as a result of the pandemic. 

Growing Concerns

More than ⅓ of the respondents reported being concerned about having enough food for themselves and their families. With so many people struggling financially our states are knee-deep in unemployment applications and people desperate for financial assistance. Undocumented survey respondents have been left out of state and federal cash aid including undocumented workers that pay federal taxes. Families that have Temporary Protected Status (TPS), young adults who have DACA, or people who are waiting for their Citizenship pay taxes through an ITIN number. Among undocumented respondents who lost their jobs, none qualify for state unemployment or the federal stimulus payment. 

15% of survey respondents have relied on family members to get by and several reported they were still waiting to receive benefits filed in March 2020, at the outset of the pandemic.

“I think everybody that works and paid taxes with or without social [security numbers] should be able to get the stimulus check” 

—Survey respondent

Economic Solutions

Federal Solutions:

  • Include immigrant families in all COVID-19 relief measures, including in both cash payments that currently exclude many mixed-status families and those who file their taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), and expanded unemployment insurance.
  • Extend the availability of Pandemic Unemployment Insurance (PUA) and the additional $600 in weekly unemployment benefits for the duration of the crisis. Invest in states’ infrastructure to ensure their ability to process and disburse unemployment benefits quickly and efficiently.
  • Automatically extend work authorizations, including for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and Temporary Protective Status (TPS) holders.
  • Leverage the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) to secure paychecks and benefits of workers and provide small businesses with the financial assistance they need to keep their businesses from shuttering.
  • Do not provide corporations with immunity from liability, which would serve as a disincentive for employers to provide necessary protections to their workers.

State Solutions for NV

  • Create a state fund to provide economic support to those excluded from federal economic relief programs.
  • Increase the number of sick days to 10 days and make the provision applicable to businesses with 25 or more employees (instead of the current 50 or more employees).

Housing Crisis in NV

Nevada’s renters are already struggling to make rent. Many will face even greater housing precarity in the coming months. 60% of Nevadans reported that they were apprehensive about being able to pay rent in the coming months. 

With these concerns there is an anticipated influx of evictions to reach the constable’s office as the moratorium lifts, leaving many families without homes during a global pandemic. 

Among homeowners, 14% were unable to pay their mortgages in the month of July. Nearly 40% are concerned about paying their mortgages in the next months. 

When asked about these concerns, homeowner individuals shared details on why they are worried about next month’s mortgage:

“I see a great depression coming” 

“No tengo dinero ni trabajo/I have no money or work” 

“Still not working and I’m not sure how long the pandemic supplement will last” 

“I’m running low on savings. Trying to cut costs to make it one more month. Asking family for help.” 

“No funds coming in. Except my SS [Social Security]”

Housing Solutions

Federal Solutions:

  • Institute a nationwide eviction and foreclosure moratorium.
  • Provide at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help keep the lowest-income renters in their homes.

State Solutions for NV

  • Extend the eviction moratorium until 90 days after the state of emergency ends.
  • Increase rental assistance, tenant counseling, and legal services for low-income renters.
  • Ban late fees and rent increases.
  • Permanently eliminate evictions without just cause.
  • Protect transgender people from housing discrimination and ensure shelter placements are made consistent with an individual’s stated gender identity.

Healthcare in NV

Communities of color are less likely to have health insurance and access to care. Many people are afraid of getting treatment for fear stemming from their status.

Half those surveyed are worried they will be unable to pay for utilities and other bills in the coming month. Over one-third are concerned about accessing enough food for their family and being able to pay debts like medical and student loan debt. One in four survey individuals are concerned about having enough money to buy medicine for their families.

Financial hardship is severely impacting Nevada families’ ability to secure basic necessities like food, utilities, and medicine. 

“I was pregnant, had a miscarriage recently so I am not able to go back to work in anyway right now. I applied for [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance] PUA unemployment May 16 and I am in desperate need of unemployment. I have not received a dime yet. I have no money and bill’s are waayyy behind. The unemployment issue for self employed individuals NEEDS to be addressed. You cannot get a hold of anyone at DETR [Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation]. Everyday is a struggle and thank God for SNAP or else I would not have food in my fridge.”

—Survey respondent

Nevada’s communities of color have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to systemic and historical racism in our economy, healthcare system, and society generally, Latinx and Black communities are bearing the brunt of this crisis, contracting and dying from COVID-19 at alarming numbers. Nationally, the COVID-19 mortality rate for Black communities is 3.8 times higher than white mortality rates, and 2.5 times as high for Latinx communities. Nevada residents who have died of COVID-19 are largely concentrated in the Las Vegas area which has a higher number of Latinx and Black residents than the state overall. According to Nevada health officials, 42% of Nevada residents testing positive for COVID-19 are Latinx.

“I’m a senior [who has] lived in Las Vegas for four years. I need to work part time to supplement my income. I am also at high risk of the virus.”

—Survey respondent

Healthcare Solutions

Federal Solutions:

  • Cover COVID-19 testing and treatment for everyone, regardless of immigration status, through Emergency Medicaid.
  • Ensure everyone can access healthcare by passing the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act.
  • Suspend the public charge immigration rule, a regulation that has deterred immigrant communities from seeking healthcare, nutrition assistance, and other essential services.

State Solutions for NV

  • Allow undocumented people to access the Silver State Health Exchange.
  • Cover COVID-19 testing and treatment for everyone, regardless of immigration status, through Emergency Medicaid.

COVID-19 outbreaks in NV Detention Center

A small number of survey respondents currently have family members or loved ones in immigration detention or criminal custody.

All of these survey respondents were worried about the health and safety of their loved ones. 80% reported challenges contacting their family members on the inside. As of July, dozens of people detained in rural Nevada detention facilities have tested positive for COVID-19 and the facilities are facing growing public scrutiny for the lack of safety precautions to protect the people being held at these facilities.

Depopulate jails & prisons

Federal Solutions:

  • Suspend Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforcement activities and release detained individuals.
  • Reduce funding for ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and institute restrictions on the transfer of funds to those agencies.
  • Provide for the decarceration of federal prisons and incentives to states and localities to reduce jail and prison populations and admissions.
  • Ensure that the $300 million in additional funding for the COPS program included in the HEROES Act does not become law.
  • End all federal funding for police in schools.
  • End the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program and associated transfers of all military equipment and vehicles to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

State Solutions for NV

  • Divest from policing and incarceration and invest in housing, healthcare, and education.
  • Eliminate the Clark County School District Police Department and invest the money previously spent on policing and surveillance towards restorative practices, mental health support counselors, and culturally relevant curriculum.
  • Fully implement AB490, which requires public schools to collect and report data on the discipline of all students in Nevada, to be analyzed by the State Board of Education.
  • Publicly fund legal representation for community members in immigration detention.

Make the Road Nevada’s community impact survey highlights the enormous toll the pandemic is having on the state’s communities of color and immigrant communities. The experiences and voices featured in this report have painted a picture of widespread precarity and suffering across the state of Nevada. To chart a path forward, Nevada’s policymakers must immediately adopt a set of policy recommendations that are responsive to and center those most impacted by this unfolding crisis. This must include creating a state fund to provide economic support to those excluded from federal economic relief programs, increasing access to paid sick leave, extending Nevada’s eviction moratorium until 90 days after the state of emergency ends, and allowing undocumented people to access the Silver State Health exchange, along with other vital reforms outlined in this report.

By taking swift action, Nevada can ensure all communities around the state have the support they so urgently need.

Download the full survey report here.

For questions or requests for an interview please contact us at: amigxs@maketheroadnv.org