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Housing insecurity on the rise for Latinos: Rpt

Due to historically high unemployment rates eroding the financial standing of millions of Americans, approximately one in five renters were at risk of eviction by September 30. UnidosUS Principal of Policy and Advocacy Orson Aguilar joins The Final Round panel to discuss how the Latino community is handling the eviction crisis in the U.S.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: Let's turn to the jobs report, the numbers we got today highlighting, once again, the uneven recovery that we're seeing in the labor market and also in the broader economy. So for more on this, we want to bring in Orson Aguilar. He's the Principal of Policy and Advocacy at UnidosUS. And Orson, great to have you on the show taking a look at these numbers. The Hispanic unemployment rate in September was 10.3%. Comparing that to the white unemployment rate, it's up 7%. First, let me get your thoughts on this and why you think we're seeing this type of disparity.

ORSON AGUILAR: Yeah, thank you for having me basically what we see is Latinos are over indexed in the industries that are being hit really hard, right? In the previous segment, we heard about small businesses-- you have a lot of Latinos in retail. But, of course, Latinos are over indexed in leisure, hospitality, food sector. These are sectors, these are jobs where you don't have the luxury of working from home.

And so that's why you see those numbers high at 10.5%, 10.3%, and still, you know, a lot of room to go. And thank goodness for the construction sector that is really supporting Latinos. We see that's really doing really well, the housing sector. And if you look who boost that sector, particularly in some of the regions like Florida, that's largely a Latino workforce. So there are some-- there's good signs and some concerning signs.

SEANA SMITH: Well, Orson, going off of that, just when we talk about the need to level the playing field, I guess, a little bit and possible solutions, how do we better ensure that this recovery leads to more equitable economic outcomes and as well as also healthy outcomes as well? Because we know that the Latino population is more susceptible to contracting COVID-19?

ORSON AGUILAR: Yeah, definitely. You know, one of the things that we saw before this, right, the Latino unemployment rate was at 4%. And Latinos had the highest labor force participation than any other group. And so from the polls that we were conducting, a lot of Latinos were working more than one job or, you know, working in the gig economy to make a little extra money. And so we just see a community that works extremely hard.

And one of the things that we need right now is just more stimulus. We know that these businesses will bounce back. But, you know, we've gone six months, you know, with-- since the shutdown, a little longer. Congress and the Senate keep bickering. They have to come together and really come into action.

Our own Federal Reserve chairman has said many times that if we just support our economy, we can get through this. But we're just not seeing that necessary action. And we know that Latinos are going to work us out of this. And right now for those that can't work, again, because they don't have that luxury from home, the least we can do is pass another PPP program, do the things that we know worked really well to get us through the winter.

- Orson, I know your organization has put out a study looking at what the challenges in the labor market have meant for housing security or insecurity for Latinos. And one of the stats in there really stood out to me. You say between June 18 and July 21, 36% of Latino children lived in households behind on rent and without enough food to eat. That's still within that time span where we were seeing the impact from the stimulus checks, from the enhanced unemployment benefits. How much worse do you think that number is going to get now that we have so much time that has expired with that program?

ORSON AGUILAR: Yeah, those numbers that you cited are really worrisome. One of the things that we know, looking at the relief that the CARES in particular, it did leave out a lot of Latino families, you know, a lot of mixed status families or undocumented families, but a lot of US citizen children were left out. And we saw a lot of flaws with the UI benefits and a lot of state systems crashing.

And in particular polls that we conducted in states like Florida Florida, Texas, and Arizona, some of these states that didn't have any language access. And so a lot of benefits didn't reach the Latino community the way they should have. And these numbers would look different. So clearly, going into the winter, again, just looking at whether there's a second wave, we're really worried the biggest housing costs for all Americans, but for Latinos in particular, is housing. A majority of Latinos do rent. And we tend to rent in areas that have high housing costs. And so put that together with bigger families, multigenerational families, you see a lot of sign for concern.

RICK NEWMAN: Hey Orson, Rick Newman here. First, I want to say nice trains on behalf of the Yahoo Finance staff. But I have a question about this year's election. Hillary Clinton in 2016, I think she got about 66% of the Hispanic vote. That was lower than Obama's share in 2012. So the question for 2020, do you think it's the Hispanics, who are very important voters especially in swing states like Florida, Arizona, and perhaps even Texas, do you think they're going to vote Democratic at a higher proportion than they did last time around or not necessarily?

ORSON AGUILAR: Yeah, that's the big story, right, are Latinos going to get on the Biden train? And, you know, we're seeing mixed messages. We do know that President Biden was kind of late to jump in and to advertise. But, you know, I think-- and we're seeing, you know, a lot of polling data, it differs.

Frankly, it's been hard to tell. But, you know, what we all know is that the Latino community is a very diverse community, you know, right? Whether you have-- are Cubans or Mexican-Americans, you know, I'm Guatemalan, you know, we have different histories, different generational backgrounds, how long we've been in this country. And so we're going to see some of that, right?

There are Latinos that are conservative. You know, there are Latinos that don't believe in high taxes and a big role for government, et cetera. And so some of these numbers are not surprising. But I think I wouldn't trust any of the polls yet to see where we land. There's so many things.

And I think, in particular, with COVID, it's just really hard to tell. It has really made things really-- it's hard to reach Latino families, as we've seen with the census. So I wouldn't put too much on the polling just yet. But there are signs to be concerned if I were the Democrats.

SEANA SMITH: Hey, Orson, real quick, just how significantly do you think the COVID-19 pandemic is going to affect Latino voter turnout? Is that something that's on your radar and something that you're worried about as we're just 30 or so days away from the election?

ORSON AGUILAR: Yeah, I think just one thing that's missing in this election is that, you know, if you look historically at who votes in this country, regardless of race, right, it's usually people who are homeowners who are doing well economically, have a job. And as we're talking about the high unemployment rate, about housing insecurity, about the lack of health, you know, when people are suffering with major day-to-day issues, voting is not top of mind. And, you know, complicate that with maybe you moved and now you have to re-register.

Maybe you never registered because that canvasser couldn't get to your door because canvassing campaigns, voter registration campaigns were halted. To me, that's the biggest concern. And there's a lot of mixed messages whether you should vote by mail, in person. There's a lot of confusion there for a variety of reasons, which I won't go into here. So I do think that to me that's the underlying story here is COVID, the impact on health and economy and how that will impact the vote. I think, to me, that's going to be the storyline.

SEANA SMITH: All right, Orson Aguilar, Principal of Policy and Advocacy at UnidosUS. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us today.

ORSON AGUILAR: Thank you.