COVID-19 is having a significant disruption on organizations serving low- and moderate-income people, according to community organizations nationwide. Respondents are split, though, about whether their recovery will be quick or difficult. That’s one of the takeaways from a survey released May 1 by the Federal Reserve System. External LinkPerspectives from Main Street: The Impact of COVID-19 on Communities and the Entities Serving Them reflects the opinions of 3,899 respondents across  the United States.

To best respond to the crisis, the Federal Reserve needed information about the scope and scale of challenges in various communities. All 12 Reserve Banks and the Board of Governors fielded the survey between April 8 and April 10. They used their stakeholder contact databases to identify representatives of nonprofit organizations, financial institutions, government agencies and other community organizations serving low-income individuals and communities.

Overall, the survey finds:

  • Nearly seven of 10 respondents (69%) indicated COVID-19 was a significant disruption to the economic conditions of the communities they serve and that recovery is expected to be difficult.
  • Income loss, business impacts, health concerns and basic consumer needs were the most frequently cited impacts of COVID-19.
  • Over one-third of respondents (35%) indicated it will take more than 12 months for their communities to return to the conditions prior to the disruption from COVID-19.
  • 72% of respondents indicated COVID-19 is having a significant disruption on the entity they represent, with 41% expecting to bounce back quickly after recovery begins and 31% expecting a difficult recovery.
  • Nearly two of three respondents (66%) indicated demand for their services has increased or is anticipated to increase, and more than half (55%) noted a corresponding decrease or anticipated decrease in their ability to provide services.
  • A quarter of respondents (25%) indicated their entity could operate for less than three months in the current environment.

Most respondents (64%) represented nonprofit organizations, with government (13%), private industry (7%) and financial institutions (5%) also represented. Another 11% were “other” types of entities. Of all respondents, 72% were direct service providers.

“This survey provides a snapshot of how communities are responding to the pandemic. Our goal is that this will help everyone in creating responses as we move into recovery,” said Steven Shepelwich, senior community development advisor at the Kansas City Fed.

The Federal Reserve plans to conduct the survey again in June to track the changing perceptions, impacts and responses related to the pandemic.

The Federal Reserve works year-round to foster economically resilient communities, and this is especially important during this unprecedented time. The Federal Reserve will continue to gather and share ongoing perspectives from Main Street on the impacts of COVID-19.

To learn more about community development efforts in the Federal Reserve’s Tenth District, visit our website


Jennifer Wilding

Community Development Specialist

Jennifer Wilding, a community development specialist for the Kansas City Fed, provides communications, engagement, and research for the community development department.

Wilding e…