Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession have devastated the financial security of many families.  But even prior to the pandemic, economic insecurity was a common experience for many U.S. families. While financial precarity is a common experience, it does not fall evenly. Women—especially Black, Latina, and Native women; women with disabilities; immigrant women; and LGBTQ individuals—have long been disproportionately likely to experience poverty and hardship. These experiences are often grounded in gender, racial, and other forms of injustice across education, housing, health care, employment, tax, and other economic systems.  During the pandemic, unsurprisingly, health and economic consequences including unemployment, food insecurity, and housing insecurity have likewise fallen more heavily on women of color, as well as families with children.

All people should have what they need to live with dignity and opportunity, including a stable income, an affordable and accessible home, adequate nutrition, and the opportunity to build wealth. Public benefits programs help fill the gaps between inadequate income and the rising costs of food, rent, and raising children. These supports also further long-term economic mobility, improving health, education, and employment outcomes for individuals and families. They are especially important during economic downturns when people lose income, helping to mitigate hardship and boost the economy.

This fact sheet highlights participation and anti-poverty impacts of several programs that boost nutrition, incomes, and housing affordability before the pandemic started, underscoring that investing in these programs is especially important for women, particularly women of color. The stark inequities that COVID-19 has laid bare and exacerbated have only amplified the need for these public programs.