Coronavirus and low-income families: U-M experts can discuss impact

March 19, 2020

Contact: Lauren Slagter, lslag@umich.edu, 734-929-8027

People with low incomes will bear much of the economic brunt of the coronavirus public health emergency and related economic slowdown. Experts at the University of Michigan are available to discuss how the coronavirus pandemic and responses at the federal, state, and local levels are likely impacting low-income families in the U.S. They can comment on issues related to unemployment, food security, housing stability, access to health care, transportation, internet access, access to child care, and consumer finance. 


profile photo of Luke Luke Shaefer is faculty director of Poverty Solutions at U-M and a professor of public policy and social work. He can discuss unemployment benefits, paid emergency leave, access to public benefits, and access to health care

Faculty Q&A: Coronavirus outbreak highlights inequities in health care, employment systems

Contact: lshaefer@umich.edu 


Kristin Seefeldt is associate faculty director of Poverty Solutions at U-M and an associate professor of social work and public policy. She can discuss food security

With stores facing shortages of many staple items, people with lower incomes may find it even more challenging to meet their food needs,” Seefeldt said. “They may lack the time and resources needed to make trips to multiple stores to stock up, particularly if they lack transportation, rely on public transportation, or live in an area with few grocery stores.”

Contact: kseef@umich.edu


Dr. Susan Dorr Goold is a professor of internal medicine and health management and policy. She can discuss allocating scarce resources during a public health emergency, professionalism and ethics, and physicians and public health.

An ethical framework that proposes to allocate scarce resources during a pandemic fairly must include attention to justice and to professional ethics,” Dorr Goold said. “Ethically-sound responses to disaster must not exacerbate, and should help ameliorate, disparities in access to care even if they cannot repair prior inequities. Use of a ‘first come, first served’ policy, for instance, favors those who are better informed and more mobile and would exacerbate existing disparities. Planners must designate appropriate resources for the most vulnerable who will suffer the greatest impact in any disaster.” 

Contact: sgoold@med.umich.edu


Dr. Michele Heisler is a professor of internal medicine and medical director of Physicians for Human Rights. She can discuss impact of the pandemic on undocumented and documented immigrant communities as well as detained immigrants, including asylum seekers.

 

Contact: mheisler@umich.edu


Trina Shanks is an associate professor of social work and faculty associate at the Survey Research Center. She can discuss food distribution and impact on nonprofits

 

Contact: trwilli@umich.edu


Cindy Leung is an assistant professor and nutrition epidemiologist whose research focuses on diet and health disparities in vulnerable populations. She can discuss food insecurity

 

Contact: cinleung@umich.edu


Brian McCall is a professor of education, economics, and public policy. He can discuss unemployment insurance and paid emergency leave

 

 

Contact: bpmccall@umich.edu


Roshanak Mehdipanah is an assistant professor of health behavior and health education. She can discuss connections between housing instability and health, health equity gaps, and urban health and the intersections with other determinants of health.

 

Contact: rmehdipa@umich.edu


Margaret Dewar is a professor emerita of urban planning. She can discuss tax foreclosures and evictions.

“In this emergency, people need to be able to stay in their homes,” Dewar said. “Tax foreclosure and eviction threaten households with losing a place to stay and increase their risk of contracting the coronavirus and spreading it to others.” 

Contact: medewar@umich.edu


Joshua Akers is an assistant professor of geography and urban and regional studies at UM-Dearborn. He can discuss moratoriums on utility shutoffs, evictions, and foreclosures.

“For many Americans, living paycheck to paycheck is a reality. The current outbreak coupled with a slowing economy has put their jobs and housing in jeopardy,” Akers said. “Housing is integral to health, and social distancing is nearly impossible without a home and basic utilities. It is essential for governments at all levels to ensure that people can remain in their homes with basic services for as long as necessary. This includes moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, the restoration of utilities such as water and electricity, and freezing mortgage payments for those facing financial difficulty.” 

Contact: jmakers@umich.edu


Terri Friedline is an associate professor of social work. She can discuss oversight of bad financial actors during the pandemic; moratoriums on negative credit reporting, debt collections, vehicle repossessions, and all bank fines and fees for the duration of the pandemic; and considerations for financial technology and fair lending during the coronavirus outbreak

“Many families were already experiencing financial precarity before COVID-19, and Black, Brown, and lower-income white families could be completely financially devastated as racialized inequalities disproportionately force them to the frontlines of the pandemic,” Friedline said. “Policymakers and regulators must take immediate steps to mitigate this devastation, such as issuing moratoriums on negative credit reporting, debt collections, vehicle repossessions, and bank fines and fees.” 

Contact: tfriedli@umich.edu


Patrick CooneyPatrick Cooney is Poverty Solutions’ assistant director of the Detroit Partnership on Economic Mobility. He can discuss housing stability, energy/utility assistance, and low-wage work in Detroit.

 

Contact: cooneypb@umich.edu 


Jennifer Erb-Downward

Jennifer Erb-Downward is a senior research associate at Poverty Solutions. She can discuss the impact on people who are homeless and how school closures affect children who do not have a stable place to live

 

Contact: jerbdown@umich.edu


Tawanna Dillahunt is an assistant professor of information and electrical engineering and computer science. She can discuss technology and employment, and aspects of the gig or sharing economy.

 

Contact: tdillahu@umich.edu


Christina Weiland is an assistant professor of education. She can discuss the effects of childcare center and preschool closures and homeschooling on 0-8 year olds.

 

Contact: weilandc@umich.edu


More information

Coronavirus: U-M experts can discuss health, economic societal impact

Michigan Medicine coronavirus updates