Report shows huge racial divides in Rochester, pandemic could make things worse

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — ACT Rochester is sending out a call to action, after publishing a new report that finds that minorities in Rochester are facing huge challenges in education, housing and economics.

These problems are not new, but the COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified the challenges.

Data shows that African American and Latino people in the Greater Rochester area have many barriers when trying to get a quality education and build generational wealth. 

“You have an environmental impact that probably is going to put you at a further disadvantage then your white counterparts,” said Ann Johnson, executive director, ACT Rochester.

The report from ACT Rochester and the Rochester Area Community Foundation shows that in the 9-county greater Rochester area, African Americans are dramatically less likely to own homes, less than half compared to white counterparts.

When it comes to renting, African American and Latino renters spend almost half their income on housing.

The reasons behind this could be restricted covenants or discriminatory housing practices from decades ago that have left cities and low-income areas filled with people of color.

“So, there’s not much opportunity for renting outside of the city and because of zoning there certainly isn’t much opportunity for affordable housing in the suburbs,” said Johnson.

The report also paints a startling image of education for African Americas in the area.

For Grade 8 English Language Arts scores, there is a 31-percentage point gap in the proficiency rate between African Americans and Whites. When comparing to NY State as a whole-African Americans in the Rochester region scored at less than half that of African Americans throughout New York.

A report from ROC the Future shows there is a digital divide in Rochester for families of color, and are worried the pandemic could make this worse in the long run for education disparities.

“Being in an online space it’s already a unique learning environment, we know children learn better in person in having that one to one interaction with teachers and with educators and we know that the divide the digital divide further that from happened,” said Tanishia A. Johnson, ROC the future Manager, Family and Community Empowerment.

Decreased access to internet or stable home environments for Black and Latino families are some of the reasons behind this, ROC the future is working to create education work spaces and parent mentoring groups to assist families with education.

The report by ACT points to a need for change on a governmental and policy level.

“And having that sacred space for learning in the home for their child and reaching out for the support that is available in our community,” said Tanishia Johnson.

“Work done by a group can inform a unique solution that would never have been thought of if we all weren’t there looking at the right end goal leaving our personally hats at the door and then thinking together,” said Ann Johnson.

This report can be used by individuals to educate themselves, but the hope is that lawmakers and leaders use this information to create policies that close the racial gap in Rochester.

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