COVID-19 has exacted a devastating toll on this nation, especially in communities of color and low-income communities. Prior to COVID-19, and in Connecticut, many in these communities were faced with disproportionately high levels of low-wage work, underemployment and unemployment, economic instability, food insecurity, exposure to environmental pollution, comorbidities and persistent stressors upon health. In 2021, these harsh truths are alarmingly glaring.
In 2019, the Urban League of Southern Connecticut, in partnership with Quinnipiac University, produced State of Urban Connecticut, an evidenced-based report that examined the impact of education, employment, income, affordable housing, health disparities and other issues on the quality of living for urban Connecticut residents. It found significant gaps between communities of color and low-income communities in comparison to white communities. From underfunded and underresourced inner-city schools with yawning opportunity gaps, the proliferation of low-wage, less-stable work with few to no benefits, widening income and wealth gaps, lack of housing that is affordable and safe, to poorer health outcomes made worse by limited or no health insurance and limited or no health care services. These issues have resulted in a series of crises in these communities that have persisted for decades and which are largely ignored or not addressed. A common theme that is expressed in the report is the need for access to resources, services and opportunities, and the deployment of these assets in ways that promote cultural awareness and equity. This was before COVID-19 became a pandemic and brought with it an economic crisis, reshaping the way we live.