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Disrupt Disparities 3.0: Pandemic Hitting Older NYers of Color Hardest in Food Insecurity, Rent Affordability, Nursing Homes

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Hip Hop Legend Doug E. Fresh Joins AARP NY, Asian American Federation, Hispanic Federation, NAACP, Urban League, Who Offer Solutions to Level Playing Field

EN ESPAÑOL | NEW YORK, N.Y. – Older New Yorkers of color have fallen behind on rent payments and are struggling with food insecurity at far greater rates than their white counterparts during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research presented today by AARP New York and leading organizations representing the state’s communities of color.

Disrupting Racial & Ethnic Disparities 3.0, the latest in a multi-year effort aimed at leveling the playing field for older New Yorkers of color, also shows that nursing homes with at least a quarter of African American or Latino residents have been twice as likely to be hit by COVID-19 than those with less than five percent of African American and Latino residents.

AARP New York, the NAACP New York State Conference, New York Urban League, Asian American Federation and Hispanic Federation released Disrupt Disparities 3.0 at a virtual event today featuring Hip Hop Legend Doug E. Fresh, U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, key New York State lawmakers, healthcare workers union 1199SEIU and Hunger Solutions.

A virtual press conference featuring Doug E. Fresh can be viewed here:

“This report shows what we’ve heard for months: that older New Yorkers of color have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic both in terms of their health and their financial security,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated the disparities we’ve been documenting for years. We and our collaborators will keep fighting to make things right for all New Yorkers.”

“Too often, when New York catches a cold, communities of color catch a fever,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. “This report only highlights the pain, suffering and death that our Black, Hispanic and Asian American neighbors have faced this year. New Yorkers need comprehensive relief now, and we must ensure that any relief provided will help disrupt the racial and ethnic disparities within our state and nation. I thank AARP New York, the NAACP New York State Conference, New York Urban League, Asian American Federation and Hispanic Federation for their dedicated work on behalf of older New Yorkers of color."

“Our communities have endured decades of disparities, and COVID-19 has made them even worse,” said Doug E. Fresh. “In everything I do, I have always been all about uplifting the community, and I’m clear that this is what AARP New York, the New York Urban League, the New York State NAACP, the Asian American Federation, and the Hispanic Federation are doing through Disrupt Disparities. Lending my voice and support to this initiative to get some things done for the betterment of the community is the right thing to do.”

“The road toward justice is long, and there are always setbacks; COVID-19 is certainly one,” said NAACP New York President Hazel Dukes. “We must redouble our efforts toward progress. It is tough, unglamorous, incremental policy work, but we stand proudly with AARP and our fellow organizations to continue fighting for New York’s 50+ people of color.”

“People of color 50 and older in New York’s urban centers have been at the center of the crosshairs of a pandemic that thrives on densely populated areas,” said New York Urban League President & CEO Arva Rice. “The pandemic has exacerbated the stark disparities we documented in earlier reports. We are proud of what our Disrupt Disparities initiative has already accomplished, but we need to implement additional policy changes to close the gaps widened by our new reality and ensure equality for all, regardless of race or ethnicity.”

“The pandemic has not only exacerbated disparities affecting older New Yorkers of color but also the problem of lack of reliable data about the Asian American community,” said Asian American Federation Executive Director Jo-Ann Yoo. “One of this initiative’s ongoing aims is to shed light on how issues ranging from healthcare to food insecurity and housing affordability impact Asian American New Yorkers.”

“Our first two Disrupt Disparities reports drove significant changes in state policies aimed at improving the lives of New York’s Latino population,” said Hispanic Federation President Frankie Miranda. “The pandemic has forced us to renew our focus to address the historical inequities that have exacerbated the disproportionate impacts on Latino communities. We are ready to work with AARP and our fellow collaborators to achieve that end.”

Specifics from the report:

  • Half of Black tenant households in New York State fell behind on their rent as of late May/early June 2020;
  • About 25% of Black and Latino families reported not being able to pay their rent in May 2020 vs. 14% of White households;
  • Even before the pandemic, Asian Americans nationally suffered higher rates of poverty than whites, while Asian Americans in New York City consistently faced higher rates of income poverty, material hardship and health problems than whites from 2014 through 2018.
  • 39% of Black families and 37% of Hispanic families are struggling with food insecurity vs. 25% of New York City’s population at large.
  • The number of New York City residents facing food insecurity has nearly doubled since the onset of the pandemic, from 1.2 million to nearly 2.2 million, roughly 25% of the population.
  • Unemployment rates reached nearly 19% in April among Latinos and 17% among Blacks; 
  • Unemployment in The Bronx reached 24.9%  in July 2020;
  • COVID-19 is widening housing disparities by race and income.

As with the initial launch of the Disrupt Disparities initiative in January 2018 and Disrupt Disparities 2.0 in January 2020, Disrupt Disparities 3.0 includes an array of policy and legislative solutions that can serve as a roadmap for elected officials and policymakers primarily at the state but also at local levels of government.

Among the recommendations:

  • An independent review of the state’s handling of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities since the onset of the pandemic and a task force of stakeholders to promote models for improvement;
  • Adequately funding cost-effective home and community-based services, which help New Yorkers age in their own homes rather than much costlier and mostly taxpayer-funded nursing homes;
  • Enhancing enrollment in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and ensuring recipients can shop for food on line and have it delivered to their homes;
  • Ensuring a lawyer for any renter with income up to 400% of the federal poverty to help fight unwarranted evictions, and;
  • Establishing a housing access voucher program for New Yorkers who are homeless or face an imminent loss of housing.

Contact: Erik Kriss,

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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.


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