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Black Neighborhoods Miss Out on Stimulus and Fall Further Behind

On Cleveland’s East Side, a pastor finds “all the doors are shut.”

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Miriam Scott, pastor of First Love Outreach Ministries on Cleveland’s East Side.

Miriam Scott, pastor of First Love Outreach Ministries on Cleveland’s East Side.

Photographer: Da’Shaunae Marisa for Bloomberg Businessweek

Everywhere Miriam Scott looks, she sees an unrelenting crisis closing in on her church and her flock.

On a Saturday in June, her First Love Outreach Ministries handed out more than 20,000 pounds of food, just shy of what it would typically distribute in an entire year. She’s counseled members of her congregation in Cleveland’s impoverished East Side whose relatives have been struck down by Covid-19 and those who’ve lost jobs and are struggling to pay rent. She’s worried she’s falling out of touch with the parade of vulnerable men who head straight from prison to the homeless shelter and used to fill her pews for Sunday services now held on Facebook. She’s not quite sure how she’s going to pay for the new boiler and roof her church needs. Or the past-due electric bill. Every time she flicks the light switch, she does so with a little prayer that there will be light.