Fed Survey: Pandemic Is Straining Organizations Serving Low- to Moderate-Income Communities

September 02, 2020

ST. LOUIS — Demand for services is climbing for many organizations serving low- to moderate-income (LMI) communities in the St. Louis Fed’s district, and some organizations are struggling to meet needs. That’s according to Perspectives from Main Street, a Federal Reserve System survey of government agencies, nonprofits, financial institutions and other organizations serving LMI communities.

The national pulse survey was conducted in August 2020. Of 1,465 total respondents, 178 were from the St. Louis Fed’s Eighth District, an area comprising all of Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Organizations work on a range of issues in LMI communities, including consumer finance, housing, small business, workforce development and education.

Eighth District organizations reported:

  • A significant (28%) or modest (25%) increase in service demand due to COVID-19 since June.
  • A significant (11%) or modest (27%) decrease in their ability to provide services; 32% reported no change.
  • That they could operate for six months or less (24%) in the current environment before exhibiting financial distress such as reducing services, laying off staff or closing locations; 16% said they were not impacted, and 20% did not know how long they could continue operating.

“Listening to the front-line organizations working to support local communities is critical to shaping effective policies and programs. This pulse survey helps amplify their voices as we try to understand the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations, businesses and community-based organizations,” said Daniel Paul Davis, a report co-author and the St. Louis Fed’s community affairs officer.

When asked about COVID-19’s top impact on LMI communities, organizations most frequently cited income loss, job loss and unemployment. This was consistent with survey findings from April and June.

>View the national report.

>View the Eighth District data supplement.

About Community Development: The St. Louis Fed seeks to promote the economic resilience and mobility of individuals and communities, including LMI and underserved households. Increasing economic opportunity is good for individuals and communities and vital to the overall economy.

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