MARCH 2020

Wherever you are in this pandemic, I hope you, your family, and friends are safe and remain healthy.

I am in a state where the governor has proactively heeded the public health scientists and implemented the necessary steps to flatten the COVID-19 curve to hopefully reduce the overwhelming impact on our health care system. For the vast majority of Americans where that strategy is reality, this is a hopeful, if also challenging and uncertain, path.

That path, however, has exposed economic inequity along race and gender lines that we knew was often hidden in our economy. That exposed economic fault line reveals that there is so much to do to restore the promise of prosperity. Income volatility for far too many workers, households without savings or other assets, lack of sick leave or other paid time off, the digital divide, and an inadequate safety net, have severely stressed a very large percentage of America’s families. Fear of missing rent or mortgage or other payments hangs as a threat to most – kicking the can down the road for a few months is a necessary short-term response, but it does not solve the intermediate and often systemic challenge.

The economic disruptions to household balance sheets will be both short and long term.  Thankfully, many funders, elected officials, and Congress are, or will, address key short-term concerns with cash payments, changes to unemployment, added funding to states for Medicaid and food distribution, as well as other economic lifelines to small businesses and non-profits. These are important and critically needed immediate and short-term efforts for the vulnerable, the economically distressed, and the hourly workers without benefits. But the foreseeable challenges do not end there.

Recovery of both the intermediate and long-term economy will require tools and systemic solutions to rebuild and build assets, protect assets from predation, and increase income from good jobs. The pipeline for post-secondary education has to be meaningfully grown. Markets where home ownership is cheaper than renting a unit more than ever need increased incentives and pathways to increase ownership. Community economic development and small business supports for expansion of good jobs need significant investments to be effective catalysts for change and prosperity.

AFN, its members, and allies are committed to growing opportunity and prosperity. The pandemic crisis will create both needs and opportunities for new approaches. AFN’s team and funder leadership are focusing our efforts with a heightened sense of urgency to create an equitable change that reinvents and restores prosperity to low and moderate income households.

Join AFN. Your voice, ideas, and creativity are welcome.  We stand ready to share, learn, and help funders and stakeholders leverage multiple sectors that will help create positive, sustaining change across our nation’s communities.