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Stay up to date with the latest news on the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. We'll post regular updates from NPR and regional news from the WRVO newsroom. You can also find updates on our live blog.

Survey reveals the pandemic's impact on Syracuse residents

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)

According to asurvey of more than 200 people in Syracuse, long-standing issues facing the community like housing, food, and employment have been made worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of respondents who say they struggle to pay rent has doubled since March and more than half say they have experienced some kind of change in employment, including losing their jobs or seeing reduced wages.

Ocesa Keaton, a Licensed Master Social Worker with Greater H.O.P.E. Syracuse, the nonprofit that conducted the survey, said she plans to use this in advocating to lawmakers in order to secure aid for families in need.

"It's easy to talk about a policy in abstract terms but when you put a story to it, it humanizes it," Keaton said. "It makes the people who have the power to make these decisions realize that just by the stroke of a pen, you're determining someone's fate."

The survey also reveals that since March, there has been an increase in the amount of people who report being food insecure, meaning they are not always certain that the food they bought will last until more money comes into the household. Additionally, there has been an uptick in city residents who say they are now tapping into government assistance programs to make ends meet.

Keaton is uring elected officials to provide funding for more internet access as more services, schooling, and jobs are now being done online and only 20% of respondents in this survey said they have consistent access to the web. Also, Keaton said lawmakers need to replace the $600 federal unemployment benefit that expired in July as many people are still out of work.

"That additional $600 was actually a lifesaver for a lot of people," Keaton said. "And now with that money being taken off the table, they don't know how they are going to make ends meet because for them, it's a decision between paying the full amount of rent or only a portion of the rent so they can buy food, groceries, or whatever else they need for the household."

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.