Cities have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has quickly morphed from a health crisis, into an unprecedented economic, social and potentially societal crisis. Suddenly, city administrations have been faced with a set of heretofore unknown challenges.
Vulnerable people have become even more vulnerable, especially the elderly, people in long-term care, people with precarious work contracts, the homeless, people with disabilities, migrants, undocumented migrants and victims of domestic violence. Many freelance professionals, small business entrepreneurs and people working in badly hit sectors such as the creative, cultural, sport and hospitality industries, have become new groups at risk of poverty due to loss of incomes and jobs. With many essential services moving online, including education, training, psychological support, health care and well-being, the digital divide is further exacerbating and widening inequalities for many people.
City budgets have experienced budget erosion due to the combined effect of declining revenues coming from local taxation and sharp increased demand for social services and income support.
With many local businesses, shops and cultural venues facing bankruptcy, unemployment is increasing. The crisis has a strong territorial dimension, impacting even more heavily cities with stronger connections to the global value chain and flows from tourism through labour market and business disruption.