- Krupa Padhy
- BBC World Service
For Omar Lightner and his family, who live in Florida (USA), this Christmas will mean much more than a small reunion.
The moratorium on evictions in the United States expires on December 31, which means that they could be homeless at the end of the holidays.
“We have $ 200 saved, it will get us nowhere. At this time. It’s the holidays,” Lightner said.
“I wonder at night how I can explain to my children that they cannot have Christmas because we have to leave this place in a few days.”
Lightner, 42, he lost his job in February as a driver in a moving company due to the pandemic.
Since then, it has been living off his savings in a motel in Jacksonville with his wife Tawanda and their children Jayla, 10, Jasmine, 8, and Jamal, 6.
Your money is running out fast.
“My savings were $ 22,000 when we went to the motel,” Lightner said. “That took a few US$17.300. The rest we allocate to food stamps. That helped a lot. But we have two children with severe autism. There are drugs and therapy to pay for. “
As the Lightners try to stretch their money, US Congressmen are trying to agree on a second aid bill by covid-19 of US $ 900,000 million that could relieve those most affected by the pandemic.
The package is expected to include hundreds of billions of dollars of support for unemployed and companies in difficulty, as well as for the vaccine distribution and for education.
In March, President Donald Trump signed the largest financial stimulus package in US history, more than $ 2 trillion.
From that package, Lightner got US $ 1,200 per month for unemployment. In August, those payments stopped. You have been told to be patient while the system is released.
As you continue to look for work, you are pinning your hopes on the second stimulus package. Although it is less than the first, it is expected to offer checks for $ 600 to millions of Americans and 10 weeks of unemployment assistance.
Millions at risk of losing their houses
Lightner’s biggest and immediate concern is how to secure a home for his family.
In September, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) received authorization to temporarily halt evictions to slow the spread of the virus and help those facing financial difficulties.
That relief expires at the end of this month and could affect between 2.4 and 5 million households. Americans, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Lightner family is one of those facing the eviction on January 1. The rent is four weeks behind.
The man explains that, as part of the motel’s eviction policy, items deemed non-essential can be removed from his room. This week, it was television, something the couple desperately need to calm Jamal, whose autism prevents him from speaking.
“We are a family of five, there are no shelters available to go to at this time,” Lightner said.
“My pride is gone. Now we are practically homeless. And I was always a very proud man. I worked all my life. We always had a nice house and good vehicles.”
“I know how I grew up, I had to work to get those things. And they have taken it from me for no reason.”
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