CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship November 25, 2020


November 25, 2020

COVID-19 Hardship

November 25, 2020

Hunger at Thanksgiving edition.  Heroic efforts are being made by food banks nationwide to provide food for families who do not have enough to eat.  Here’s what they’re up against:  more than 25 million people reported during the period from October 28 – November 9 that in the prior week, their households sometimes or often did not have enough to eat.  Look below at the increasing percentages. If someone in the household lost earnings, 20 percent were going without food. If an adult stopped working to stay home to care for a child, 25 percent were going without food.  And if they were not current in their rent, fully 37% did not have enough to eat in the previous week.  The connection between unstable housing and hunger is clear.  Boston Medical Center’s Grow Clinic sees the connection in its increasing caseload of babies and toddlers, whose health and development are suffering.  The connection between lost work and housing instability is clear.  Reduced earnings means unpaid bills, including rent and utilities.

Congress did a very good thing when it passed the CARES Act and provided expanded unemployment benefits and stimulus checks.  Those benefits helped families to keep up with their bills.  Now that assistance is expiring – the last checks go out December 26.  According to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, if Congress reinstates the pandemic unemployment benefits, it will enable families to pay much more of their back rent, staving off evictions for millions.  If Congress does nothing, by January millions will owe on average over $6,000 in back rent. That’s more than most will be able to pay.

The connection between Congressional inaction and harm to families is also clear.  Senators who so far have refused to act will return from their Thanksgiving break, almost certainly well-fed, while long lines of cars continue to assemble at food distribution sites.  On the day before Thanksgiving, there were only 31 days until the last Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation checks will be issued, and only 31 days until the CDC eviction moratorium expires.

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge (by more than 1.2 million in the past seven days), and deaths rise by 61 percent (more than 11,000 in the past week), more people will lose earnings and will struggle to pay their bills.  Unemployment claims rose yet again for the week ending November 21, to 1.09 million, counting the soon to expire Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (for gig and self-employed workers).

Even if you’ve written before, please tell your Senators that time is running out for their constituents.  Click here to send them emails telling them we are facing a national emergency and public health crisis – they must act. On this holiday of Thanksgiving, we are very grateful for your willingness to act.




Percentage of all adults in households that sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the previous 7 days – 25.7m people. Tweet this.


1 in 5 adults in households where someone lost earnings did not have enough to eat in the previous week.


1 in 4 adults not working because they were caring for a child not in school or day care said their household did not have enough to eat in the previous week. Tweet this.


Among those not current in their rent or mortgage, 37% said their household did not have enough to eat in the previous week. 


36 days until the moratorium on evictions set by the CDC expires (December 31).  The CDC announced the moratorium because the overcrowding and homelessness resulting from mass evictions would worsen COVID’s spread. Tweet this.


How many days until the last checks are issued for two expiring pandemic unemployment benefits programs.  12m will be cut off on Dec. 26; 4.4m will have already exhausted benefits 

60%; 8 billion

Increase in the number of people seeking help from emergency food banks, according to Feeding America. A record-breaking increase, they are trying to fill an 8 billion meal gap because they expect need to grow more than 3 times the last annual distribution of meals. 


Increase in cases at Boston Medical Center’s Grow Clinic since the pandemic’s onset.  The Grow Clinic treats infants and toddlers who are underweight or with associated health/developmental problems.  The Clinic associates the increases with parents’ worries about being evicted.  Before the pandemic, falling behind in rent was related to a 4-fold increase in food insecurity, associated with fair or poor health in young children.

1 in 4; nearly half

More than one in four adults living with children said they were behind in rent (26%); of those, 47.5% thought it was very or somewhat likely they would have to leave their house in the next two months due to eviction.  31% of Black and 16% of Latinx adults said their households owed back rent.


If Congress does not replace expiring unemployment and other COVID relief, by January 2021, 3.4 million renter households will owe on average $6,039 in back rent, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.  Extending COVID aid would cut the amount owed by more than half.