‘Nothing Under Our Tree’: Millions of People in the United States Face Financial Misery Over the Holiday Season | Coronavirus


Tthere will be no presents under the Christmas tree this year 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. Finding a new job turned out to be impossible.

“This is the first year that my kids won’t 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 mom to move in until I got rent assistance and food stamps, that’s literally all I have.

With the approach of a holiday season overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and the recession that accompanies it, millions of Americans have found themselves with little money and little to celebrate. Across America, haunting lines of food banks in Texas, Pennsylvania and other states paint a grim picture in the middle of winter as charities struggle to cope with the financial misery left as a result of Covid-19.

Meanwhile in Washington, Congress continues to struggle to pass a new emergency relief bill before it adjourns for the holidays. And even if a bill passes, it can take several weeks for state unemployment agencies to restart benefits to Americans in need.

Politicians have been deadlocked on a new relief bill for months. And for Schauvilegee, a new bill will already be too late. She lost her car due to non-payment and, during the pandemic, received no unemployment assistance. His request is still being considered without delay for receipt of a resolution. Without a car, finding a job in his rural area was almost impossible.

Michelle Bell Cagley of Anderson, Indiana was unemployed after losing her job at a local plastics manufacturing plant, but it suddenly stopped in August 2020 due to an identity verification issue and is still trying to resolve the missing benefits of the weeks when his account was in arbitration.

“I have three children, three young stepchildren and three grandchildren. We all go out for Christmas in general. This year not at all, ”she said. “Luckily my kids are older, but two of my stepchildren and two of my grandchildren still believe in Santa, so I gave up to buy these four cheap things.”

An angel wearing PPE sits atop the Christmas tree at the UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. Photographie: Allison Dinner / AFP / Getty Images

One of her daughters, Kalynn Nicole Cagley, who lost her job as a waiter, was evicted from her home in late October as she gave birth to her third child. She said her landlord pushed for the eviction after refusing the housing aid it was accepted by the state for because the landlord did not want to deposit it on his taxes. They now come and go between the houses of friends.

“I am a single mother of three, worked really hard to keep the rent paid and we were successful until November,” she said. “My five year old is having a very difficult time trying to figure out why we don’t have our Christmas tree, why all of their toys are in storage, and why it doesn’t belong. She asks me at least once a day if we can just go “home”. Normally this time of year is all about crafts, baking and making Santa Claus, I have done my best to make sure Christmas is not completely wasted for them, but I have lost all hope.

The desperate plight of millions of Americans has pushed many charity and relief programs to the brink of collapse. Toy campaigns this holiday season are signaling a shortage of volunteers and donations as demand has increased due to the pandemic. Several national and local housing assistance funds have been depleted, and food banks are bracing for shortages while trying to cope with increased demand.

Without a deal in Congress, the situation looks set to get worse. There are about 12 million Americans on Emergency Pandemic Unemployment Compensation or Unemployment Assistance Pandemic – the two emergency programs launched in March to deal with the economic fallout from the virus. . These benefits expire before or on December 26.

In the meantime, new jobless claims continue to be filed at record levels every week. And more than 26 million American workers are still currently affected by the coronavirus.

About 12 million renters in the United States will owe an average of $ 5,850 in rent and utilities by January 2020, and millions face eviction from their homes when the Moratorium on Evictions from the Centers for Disease and Control will expire on December 31.

Nearly 26 million American adults, 12% of adults in the United States, said their household did not have enough to eat in the past seven days, according to the latest US Census data.

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

“As of July 26, 2020, we are surviving on an unemployment income of $ 900 per month after tax, which is Florida’s maximum unemployment payment. This amount doesn’t even cover the cost of renting our little apartment, ”said Cawthorne Shannon. “We sold all personal items except a car, which had a fair value to pay a bill. So now we sleep on pallets or lawn chairs. She doesn’t know if they’ll be able to stay in their apartment after New Years.

For Thanksgiving, Cawthorne Shannon and her daughter could only afford sandwiches with stuffing and cranberry sauce. This year for Christmas, they cannot afford to celebrate it at all. They hope next year will be better.

“Christmas will just have to be a day,” she said. “We considered sending out some Christmas cards, but that would require cards and stamps. We will regret adopting angels from angels, shopping for gifts and laughing. Because we don’t know if we will be living at home on the 1st of the New Year, we have made the decision not to decorate for the season.

Brittany Martins of Evansville, Wisconsin, was unemployed when the pandemic hit after losing her sales job. In July, she found a part-time job but still relied on partial unemployment benefits, but these suddenly stopped after being instructed by her national unemployment agency to file a claim for unemployment assistance in the event of pandemic, and is still waiting to resolve its claims issues.

“I lost my car, I’m about to lose my apartment and things are getting worse. I basically told my kids I was sorry, but don’t expect Christmas or Hanukkah this year, ”Martins said. “They are sad and upset, but they see how much we are struggling. I told them that once I start working I hope we can take a day trip or a weekend to make up for Christmas.


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