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Issue #34 | May 19, 2020

Coronavirus, the Fed, and You

When there are no funds for fundraising, how do you help those most in need?

When times are tough, it is even tougher for organizations that help those in need. Last month, the Federal Reserve System surveyed nonprofits, government agencies, and other community organizations across the country to gauge the scope and scale of challenges brought on by COVID-19. Nearly 7 of 10 respondents, or 69 percent, report significant disruption to economic conditions in the communities they serve. See more from the 3,900 respondents who weighed in on the pandemic’s impact. Closer to home, regional respondents found the
situation more dire
—nearly 78 percent of them indicated significant disruption.

Still stocking up?

How many consumers still say they’re storing more food or increasing cash on hand? How long do most believe the pandemic will last? Updated weekly, charted survey results give a glimpse into what consumers are thinking and doing, dating back to March.

COVID-19 mortality rates in the United States

In the week leading up to April 12, mortality rates doubled or more in 37 states. See the states where rates were high and fast-growing and where they were low and slower-growing.

Internet urgently necessary, and local governments can help

The pandemic has brought national attention to the digital divide, the gap that households without Internet access experience. The Dallas Fed
offers immediate actions municipalities and other local governmental entities can take
to improve the availability and affordability of Internet for families, some of whom are struggling to stay connected with jobs, schooling, healthcare, and more.

Mapping the communities most vulnerable to COVID-19

Where are the communities across the nation that are at greatest health and economic risk because of COVID-19’s spread? These four
maps examine
where Americans have lower incomes, are 65 years and older, are working part time, and don’t have health insurance.

Want to support your community during the pandemic?

From donating blood to online tutoring, there are many ways we can help each other during this difficult time. If you’re looking for a way to give back to your community, browse this list for ideas.

Schools are unexpectedly closed; how many full-time workers have young children at home?

With coronavirus-related school closures expected to last for the remainder of the school year in many states, many full-time workers are likely to drop out of the labor force to care for children. The St. Louis Fed found that 20 percent of full-time workers have a young child at home. What percentage of those workers have spouses who also work full time, what are their household incomes, and what impacts are likely?

How the pandemic has disproportionally affected low-income communities and people of color

Equitable economic recovery and current and imminent funding gaps for underserved populations were among the matters discussed when community leaders joined in a virtual forum April 23 with the New York Fed. Missed it? No problem—watch it here.

Wiping out the “COVID trade-off”: Can we reduce both infection rates and economic fallout?

A new paper suggests that there may be a way to contain the coronavirus pandemic while also building our economy back up—and that the trade-off between COVID-19 deaths and economic output may not be inevitable. Explore this article to learn more about the strategy.

Where’s the beef?

While many of us may wonder why it seems like toilet paper became so hard to find, the Kansas City Fed details how breakdowns or
bottlenecks in the supply chain affect meat supply.

How the Fed is trying to limit economic damage—in plain English

While the details of the Fed’s actions during the COVID-19 pandemic may be hard to understand, the goal is easy to grasp: “to prevent the economy from completely freezing up while public health experts get the virus under control.” Here’s a plain-English overview of the moves the Fed has made in recent weeks to limit the damage to our economy.

To support the economy, Federal Reserve expands programs

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System recently announced the expansion of its Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility, Main Street Lending Program, and Municipal Liquidity Facility. See the updates, and sign up to be alerted when the Fed takes
further action.

CDFIs emerge as critical players in addressing economic challenges

Community development financial institutions, known as CDFIs, have provided financing such as small-dollar business loans to fill financing shortfalls during the pandemic. But these players are quickly running out of capacity and would benefit from a broad set of partners to keep acting, one New York Fed associate wrote in this piece posted to Medium.

Not perfect: Analyzing the phases of federal fiscal policy responses

The federal government has instituted three phases of relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic thus far. A Richmond Fed public policy analyst outlines the phases, gaps in the response and possible next steps, and two outstanding questions.

Recently, from the Cleveland Fed

  • Combatting eviction and homelessness in Ohio

    Nearly half of all renters in Hamilton County did not have affordable housing, according to estimates from a recent Census Bureau American Community Survey. The county’s eviction rate is also higher than national and Ohio averages. Learn how local agencies and municipalities in Hamilton County and other parts of Ohio are combatting homelessness in the age of COVID-19.

  • Working toward increasing black homeownership

    Black homeownership is nationally at a 50-year low, according to 2018 Census estimates, and organizations such as the Cleveland Realtist Association are working to reverse that trend. Discover the barriers to black homeownership, the policies being proposed to address these barriers, and what’s being done in Cleveland.

  • Which businesses borrow from online lenders?

    Businesses consider traditional banks and online, nonbank lenders when borrowing money. On average those borrowing online are newer companies, with fewer employees, and represent a larger proportion of minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses. Learn what percentage of businesses served by online lenders, between 2016 and 2018, were unlikely to have been approved for a traditional bank loan in this analysis of thousands of small business responses.

  • Rising systemic risk in the US financial system

    In late February and early March, the Systemic Risk Indicator began to show increasing levels of systemic risk, or risk of widespread failure in the banking system. Download the latest data and read more about the construction of the indicator.


COVID-19 and the economic shutdown are affecting communities across the country. How might the Cleveland Fed’s Investment Connection program help address the difficulties people now face?

Mary Helen:

Our Community Development Department is currently doing extensive outreach to better understand how COVID-19 is impacting low- and moderate-income people and communities, and we are finding that they are being disproportionately impacted. These are the most distressed people and communities, and it doesn’t do anyone any good—economically or otherwise—to leave people who are already behind further behind, which is what I’m afraid the COVID-19 situation will do. A lot of small businesses are at risk of failing, too.

Investment Connection is a Federal Reserve program that Banks like ours across the country use to connect funders such as financial institutions, government agencies, and foundations, with community-based organizations such as food banks, affordable housing agencies, and neighborhood health facilities that serve low- and moderate-income people and communities. Through Investment Connection, organizations can pitch projects and programs that need funding, and funders can consider supporting those projects knowing that doing so may get them “credit,” if you will, toward their compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).


The CRA encourages institutions to meet the credit needs of the communities where they do business, and banks care about compliance: If they’re found to be in noncompliance, banks cannot grow with new branches or mergers and acquisitions.

Banks are being encouraged to lean in and support activities that help lessen the effects of the pandemic and the shutdowns that followed. In fact, in light of the pandemic, three federal regulatory agencies formally announced that banks taking action to meet the COVID-19-related needs of their low- and moderate-income customers and communities will receive positive consideration toward their compliance with the CRA.

Mary Helen:

It’s sometimes very difficult for banks, especially smaller community banks, to find CRA-eligible projects and for small nonprofits overtaxed by workload to take the time to develop the banking relationships they need. Investment Connection is meant to create a relationship where it wouldn’t happen otherwise. This year’s events, in light of COVID-19, will most likely be virtual. This is the case for the Erie, Pennsylvania, and Cleveland–Akron, Ohio, events in June. Organizations will pitch selected proposals to funders during virtual events, but all proposals that we find to be potentially CRA-eligible will be available to view in the Investment Connection online portal. So we are hopeful nonprofits will submit their projects and funders will find projects to support. (Organizations, view the requests for proposal to see what you’re asked to submit by May 22. Funders, browse projects.)


Through Investment Connection, our aim is to enable organizations to get the funding they need—a loan, investment, or grant—to support healthcare, digital access, activities that sustain small business operations, or food supplies and services. The online funder portal is always live, but we hope it will especially help during this time of COVID-19—and specifically for the low- and moderate-income people hurt by it.

Investment Connection dates and details
Technology’s changing, and so is CRA

Mary Helen Petrus

is assistant vice president for the Cleveland Fed’s Community Development Department and oversees the Investment Connection program.

Susan Schaaf

is a senior examiner who monitors banks for compliance with regulations such as the Community Reinvestment Act.

Graphic of the Month

Pay and opportunity—bachelor’s degree not required

The manufacturing sector can afford a middle-class lifestyle to workers, including those without four-year degrees. See the three-part multimedia series and all 16 charts.

The manufacturing industry faces many challenges

By the Numbers

On the Calendar

  • June 11

    Investment Connection virtual meeting for Erie, Pennsylvania, funders
    (Organizations will pitch proposals to funders who may consider funding those proposals.)

  • June 26

    Investment Connection virtual meeting for Cleveland, Ohio, funders
    (Organizations will pitch proposals to funders who may consider funding those proposals.)

From around the Federal Reserve System

Where are the most and least affordable areas to own a home?

Several areas in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky top the Atlanta Fed's list of most affordable metro areas to own a home. Find how affordable your metro area is and learn about the impact of COVID-19 on housing affordability by exploring the latest findings from the Home Ownership Affordability Monitor.

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