Evernorth survey shines light on low-income residents’ pandemic experiences
Evernorth’s Connections Program and the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition (VAHC) have been engaged in a 6-month phone survey in an effort to understand the impacts of COVID on our Vermont communities and to amplify the voices of the people who rely on affordable housing.
Each month since January of 2021, Evernorth and VAHC have completed around 25 in-depth interviews with residents of affordable housing across Vermont. The survey’s questions focused on the financial impacts of COVID, access to services and financial assistance programs, social isolation, neighbor relations, and impacts of the pandemic on other areas such as parenting, transportation, mental and physical health, internet access, and more. The interviews, which were 10-30 minutes in length, were then transcribed and analyzed.
Five themes have emerged from the survey data:
Theme 1: Income, Employment, and Bills
This theme encompassed residents’ struggles with lost employment hours and the juggling act they had to do to get bills paid.
“I’ve had to use the credit card for purchases that I would not normally use it so I would have the cash for rent. I have had to juggle which bills get paid when.” – Household with 2 adults and 2 kids, January survey
Theme 2: Mental and Social Health
Unsurprisingly, residents identified social isolation, deteriorating mental health (including anxiety and depression), and tense neighbor relations as challenges during this time.
“Being that I have an autoimmune disease, I have to be more cautious than a healthier person…I don’t really know how to feel, I just know I’m always panicked, scared, and nervous.” – Household with 2 adults and 2 kids, January survey
Theme 3: Digital Connectivity
Residents indicated that the internet has been a lifeline during the pandemic; from job searching to telehealth to social connection, internet is not a luxury but a necessity. It can also be expensive for families who are already struggling to pay their bills.
“I pay for [wi-fi]. My son is on virtual learning so I have to pay for it.” – Household with 2 adults and 4 children
Theme 4: Childcare
Children being home from school has impacted parents’ abilities to work as well as caused utility bills and food expenses to increase.
“I was working full-time. My kids are in school, I wasn’t available as much as they needed me. I was having to call out to stay home and I don’t really have a lot of support. I was becoming unreliable because of the pandemic. The relationship turned bad because I kept having to call out. Now I work only 15 hours a week.” – Single parent of 2
Theme 5: Hope and Gratitude
Despite their struggles, residents also identified gratitude for their friends and family and hope for the future.
“I think people, myself included, have really understood the deep importance of relationships with other human beings.” – Single household
Evernorth presents these findings at Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition’s monthly meeting. Tune in to an upcoming VAHC meeting to learn more!
Thanks to Evernorth’s Connections team, especially Lindsay Thrall and Jed Sass, for carrying out this effort!
Please click here to view the January report.
Please click here to view the February report.
Please click here to view the March report.