Voces Unidas poll captures impact of COVID on Latino community
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic took a significant toll on the economic well-being of Latino families across Colorado who are now looking to elected officials to bolster opportunities for jobs and affordable housing and to address escalating costs-of-living, among other issues, according to partial results from a first-ever Voces Unidas-funded poll of 1,000 Latino registered voters released today.
This poll marks the launch of Voces Unidas policy research agenda, which also included a first-ever Latino grassroots leader survey and several in-person meetings. The results will help inform our local policy agenda and legislative priorities driven by Latinas and Latinos and the change that we want to see in our communities.
Key findings from the poll on how the pandemic impacted Latino families include:
60% had their work hours or pay cut, or had someone in their household lose their job;
56% had difficulty paying their bills or utilities;
50% had difficulty paying their rent or mortgage;
33% have not had enough food to eat.
“It is almost impossible to overstate the pandemic’s impact on the Latino community in Colorado,” said Alex Sánchez, executive director of Voces Unidas de las Montañas. “When it comes to basic economic indicators like having the money to pay bills in order to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table, the survey provides a sobering glimpse at how hard the economic recession caused by the pandemic has been for the state’s largest ethnic minority.”
Added Dusti Gurule, executive director of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) : “Latinos across the state were faced with difficult and sometimes dire decisions during the pandemic. Now, they are looking to officials at the state and federal levels to deliver policies to improve the outlook for jobs and the economy as well as to address costs associated with necessities like housing, health care and internet access.”
The poll of 1,000 Latino adults in Colorado was conducted Aug. 16-31 by BSP Research on behalf of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), Voces Unidas de las Montañas, Colorado Democratic Latino Caucus, Protégete of Conservation Colorado, and the Political Science Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Complete results will be released next month as part of the organizations’ plans to research and highlight the issues facing Colorado’s Latino community.
Other findings of the poll released today, include: Latinos on the Western Slope were more likely to not have enough food to eat (40%) and have difficulties paying for their rent or mortgage (64%) than those in other areas of the state. Latinos who live in the Denver-metro area were the most likely to have had their work hours cut or reduced (64%).
Latinos also made tough decisions in order to manage household finances during the pandemic. This includes nearly 34% who used up all or most of their savings to pay for their expenses; 19% who had to skip a monthly car, rent, or mortgage payment; and 20% who postponed or cut back on health-related expenses. The pandemic had a significant impact on housing stability, with 14% of respondents reporting they moved or changed their housing situation as a result.
An alarming 42% of Colorado’s Latino population had $1,000 or less in savings for financial emergencies — and a stunning 20% had $100 or less in savings. Furthermore, only 37% of Latinos in Colorado are “very confident” that they can pay for basic living expenses, such as food, housing, and utilities.
One of the more troubling findings from the survey is that 11% of Latino residents in the state have turned to pay-day or easy loan companies that charge high-interest rates. The use of pay-day or easy loan companies is particularly high on the Western Slope, where nearly 1 in 5, (19%) said they had turned to this option.
Policy Priorities of the Latino Community in Colorado
Respondents were also asked to identify the most important policy issues the state and federal government should address. At the federal level, creating more jobs and addressing the economy were at the top of the list. The high salience on economic well-being to the Latino community is reinforced by “addressing affordable housing” and “the rising cost of living” emerging as key issuesINAL for Latinos at the state and local level.
Small businesses were hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and Latinos are disproportionately likely to be employed by small businesses, which helps explain the high support (88%) to set up a state fund to help Latino-owned small businesses.
The rising cost of housing was already a major issue in the state prior to the pandemic, but increased in salience over the past two years. This resulted in nearly all (88%) Latinos in Colorado supporting new housing requirements that developers must include affordable housing.
The pandemic also made clear how vital access to high-speed internet is for all aspects of life, including working and educating our children. Latinos overwhelmingly support (86%) the state providing high-speed internet access to all Coloradoans. There is also a recognition that access to high-speed internet and other infrastructure must extend to residents of rural areas of the state. For example, 79% of the sample supports bolstering economic opportunities outside of the Front Range.
This report draws from a statewide survey of Latino adults across the state of Colorado during a critical period in the state’s history. The survey makes clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to the Latino community. This information should be of high value to the Legislature’s three newly-formed task forces on Economic Recovery and Relief, Affordable Housing, and Behavioral Health which will oversee the distribution of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to Coloradans. Additional issue priorities, policy preferences, and political values of the Latino community in Colorado will be included in the release of full survey results next month.
Survey Methodology:The survey of 1,000 total completed interviews with Latino adults in the state of Colorado resulted in an overall margin of error of +/- 3.1%. Survey respondents were randomly selected in a blended approach including web-based and telephone interviews (both landlines and cell phones) and was available in both English and Spanish at respondent’s discretion.Respondents were recruited with up to 5 contacts to improve the representativeness of the sample. Data were compared to the best-known estimates of the U.S. Census Current Population Survey (CPS) for demographic profile of Colorado adults and post-stratification weights were applied to bring the data into direct balance with Census estimates. The poll was led by Dr. Gabriel Sanchez and Dr. Matt Barreto from BSP Research, LLC.