A regional survey on the effects of COVID-19 confirms that residents of the Roanoke Valley are facing many challenges due to the pandemic, that some area communities and populations are being hit disproportionately hard, and that most respondents expressed an overwhelming fear of catching COVID-19 (76%), followed by a concern with mental health issues (49%).
ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households were struggling to meet basic needs before the pandemic. Pre-pandemic data showed that 44% of households in the Roanoke Valley region fell below the ALICE threshold, meaning they were unable to meet a basic household survival budget for housing, food, transportation, childcare, health care and technology. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted these households.
The survey revealed that:
- Regardless of income, families worry about childcare/education and/or remote learning with 82% of respondents with children listing this as a top concern; 53% of respondents with children report challenges with juggling work and children’s needs.
- Of those respondents falling below the ALICE threshold, 44% were concerned about providing enough food for the household.
- Respondents who were hourly workers were far less likely to transition to remote work (17%) than salaried workers (45%).
- Of those looking for work, 47% reported difficulty finding a job and 46% reported being unable to find a job that provides a sufficient income.
Respondents who fell below the ALICE threshold:
- Are statistically more concerned about childcare and education, mental and physical health issues, paying housing expenses and debts, job loss, affording food, and losing wages than households above the ALICE threshold.
- Are more likely to have taken money from savings, increased credit card debt, applied for unemployment, borrowed money from family or friends, sold belongings for cash, or received food assistance than households above the ALICE threshold.
“The findings paint a picture of what families in our region are going through. More of our households are struggling, and the stories behind these numbers highlight issues like childcare/out-of-school care, mental health, and debt, on top of the challenges of meeting typical basic needs,” said Abby Hamilton, president & CEO of United Way of Roanoke Valley. “Our work doesn’t stop here. We need to continue to align and be united to help families meet these complex challenges head on in the coming year. It’ll take every asset and resource, every individual and business pitching in for our entire community to heal, recover and rebuild together.”
The survey was administered from February 1-28, 2021 and made available in both English and Spanish. The survey closed with a total of 2,428 respondents representing the cities of Roanoke, Salem and Covington, the counties of Roanoke, Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig, and Franklin, and the Town of Vinton.
The COVID-19 survey has provided a snapshot of critical needs in our region due to the coronavirus. UWRV and our many community partners hope the results will help guide conversations, community action, advocacy and policy, ensuring resources are allocated to support those in need, Hamilton said.
For more information or to find data about ALICE in local communities, visit www.uwrv.org/alice.
The COVID-19 Impact Survey is a partnership of the following organizations:
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.-Beta Chi Omega Chapter
Botetourt County Social Services
City of Roanoke
City of Roanoke Department of Social Services
Community Foundation Serving Southwest Virginia
Craig County Public Schools
Franklin County Department of Social Services
Franklin County Public Schools
Junior League of Roanoke Valley
Latinas Network-Roanoke and New River Valley
Macaroni Kid Roanoke
Marsh & McLennan
Nuestro Commercio Latino Roanoke
Roanoke City Public Schools
Roanoke County-Salem Department of Social Services
Roanoke County Public Schools
Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce
Roanoke Regional Partnership
Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission
Salem City Public Schools
Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce
Sisters of Change
Town of Vinton
Virginia Department of Health, Roanoke City & Alleghany Health District
Western Virginia Workforce Development Board/ VA Career Works-Blue Ridge Region
Western Virginia Water Authority