Sunday, September 26

“Nothing Under Our Tree”: Millions of Americans Face Financial Misery During the Holiday Season | Coronavirus


Tthis year there will be no presents under the Christmas tree for Sierra Schauvilegee and her children. Schauvilegee lost her as a nurse when the residential care facility she worked for closed permanently at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It has been impossible to find a new job.

“This is the first year that my children will not open a single gift, nothing under our tree,” said Schauvilegee, who lives in Ingalls, Kansas. “I used all my savings to survive and begged my mother to move out until I got rental assistance and food stamps, that’s literally all I have.”

Heading into a holiday season overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and the recession that accompanies it, millions of Americans have been left with little money and little to celebrate. Across the United States, disturbing lines from food banks in Texas, Pennsylvania and other states paint a bleak portrait of mid-winter as charities struggle to cope with the financial misery left by Covid-19.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Congress is still scrambling to pass a new emergency aid bill before adjourning for the holidays. And even if a bill passes, a delay of several weeks is expected for state unemployment agencies to resume benefits for Americans in need.

Politicians have been stuck over a new aid bill for months. And for Schauvilegee, a new bill will already be too late. He has lost his car due to non-payment and during the pandemic he has not received any unemployment assistance. Your claim is still being resolved without a time frame to receive a resolution. Without a car, finding work in her rural area has been nearly impossible.

Michelle Bell Cagley of Anderson, Indiana, was receiving unemployment after losing her job at a local plastic manufacturing plant, but was suddenly stopped in August 2020 due to an identity verification issue, and is still trying to work out benefits. missing from the weeks your account was. in adjudication.

“I have three children, three young stepchildren and three grandchildren. We usually do our best for Christmas. This year for nothing, “he said. “Fortunately, my children are older, but two of my stepchildren and two of my grandchildren still believe in Santa, so I got rid of buying a few cheap things for those four.”

An angel in PPE stands on top of the Christmas tree at UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts.
An angel in PPE stands on top of the Christmas tree at UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. Photograph: Allison Dinner / AFP / Getty Images

One of her daughters, Kalynn Nicole Cagley, who lost her job as a waitress, was evicted from her home in late October while giving birth to her third child. He said his landlord went ahead with the eviction after denying him rental assistance that the state accepted because the landlord did not want to include it on his taxes. Now they move back and forth between their friends’ houses.

“I am a single mother of three, I worked very hard to keep the rent paid and we were successful until November,” she said. “My five-year-old daughter is having a really hard time trying to understand why we don’t have our Christmas tree, why all her toys are in storage, and why she doesn’t have her space. He asks me at least once a day if we can go “home.” Typically this time of year is spent crafting, baking, and getting ready for Santa. I’ve done everything I can to make sure Christmas doesn’t completely ruin them, but I’ve lost all hope. “

The desperate plight of millions of Americans has pushed several charity and assistance programs to the limit. The toy drives this holiday season are reporting shortage of volunteers and donations, as demand has increased due to the pandemic. Various states and local rental assistance funds have been Exhaustedand Food bank are Preparing for shortage while trying to keep up with the increase in demand.

Without an agreement in Congress, the situation seems to get worse. There are about 12 million Americans in pandemic emergency unemployment compensation or pandemic unemployment assistance, the two emergency plans launched in March to deal with the economic fallout of the virus. Those Benefits expire on or before December 26.

Meanwhile, new unemployment claim (is they are still being filed at record levels every week. YMmore than 26 million American workers they are still being negatively affected by the coronavirus.

About 12 million renters in the U.S. will owe an average of $ 5,850 in rent and utilities by January 2020, and millions will face imminent evictions from their homes when the Centers for Control moratorium on evictions expires. and Diseases on December 31.

Nearly 26 million American adults12% of adults in the US reported that their households did not eat enough in the past seven days, according to the most recent data from the US Census Survey.

Melinda Cawthorne Shannon of Tampa, Florida, lost her job in restaurant management when the pandemic hit. The 60-year-old woman spent eight hours or more per day during the week trying to connect with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to issue and resolve her claim, and she finally began receiving benefits after 14 weeks, and she still lacks payments for several weeks. She takes care of her daughter, who is unable to work due to various medical conditions.

“Since July 26, 2020, we have been surviving on unemployment income of $ 900 a month after taxes, which is Florida’s maximum unemployment payment. This amount doesn’t even cover the cost of renting our little apartment, ”said Cawthorne Shannon. “We have sold all the personal items, except a car, that had some value just to pay a bill. So now we sleep on paddles or lawn chairs. “She’s not sure if they’ll be able to stay in her apartment after New Years.

For Thanksgiving, Cawthorne Shannon and her daughter could only afford to eat stuffed sandwiches and cranberry sauce. This Christmas year, they can’t afford to celebrate it at all. They hope that next year will be better.

“Christmas will just have to be a day,” he said. “We considered sending some Christmas cards, but that would require cards and stamps. We will miss adopting angels from Angel trees, buying gifts and just laughing. As we do not know if we will live in our house on the 1st of the new year, we made the decision not to decorate for the season ”.

Brittany Martins of Evansville, Wisconsin, was unemployed when the pandemic struck after losing her job in sales. In July, he found a part-time job, but was still dependent on partial unemployment benefits, but these suddenly ceased after the state unemployment agency directed him to apply for pandemic unemployment assistance, and he is still waiting to resolve his claim problems. .

“I lost my car, I am about to lose my apartment and things are getting worse. I’ve basically told my kids that I’m sorry, but don’t expect Christmas or Hanukah this year, ”Martins said. “They are sad and upset but they see how we are struggling. Once I started working, I told them that hopefully we could take a day trip or a weekend trip to make up for Christmas. “


www.theguardian.com

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