In communities like Chelsea, even in the best of times, families scrape by financially. They work long hours in low-wage jobs, overcrowd apartments to afford rent, and cook creatively to keep everyone fed. These families work so hard to build a better life for themselves and their children – painstakingly inching towards financial independence and an “American dream.”
In a matter of days, the COVID-19 crisis erased decades of progress for our families. The latest U.S. jobs report shows that Latinos are the worst hit ethnic group in the country, with a record national jobless rate of 18.9%.
The Grariejo family is one of many feeling the financial pain, with no end in sight. Macedonia, mom of three, worked 40 hours/week for minimum wage. It was a daily struggle, but she was able to scratch together enough for rent and food each month to support her kids and her elderly mother. With the COVID-19 shutdown, her hours were cut to five/week and the family fell into financial crisis overnight. To survive, Macedonia relies of food pantries and loves the Latino foods that the Collaborative distributes.
Before COVID, Macedonia barely got by and saving for emergencies was out of the question. Still, she considered her family fortunate – Macedonia was employed and her family had a roof over their heads. For a time, they had a small sense of security. Post-COVID, Macedonia hasn’t paid rent for two months, and even with the eviction moratorium in place for now, she knows she’ll never be able to catch up on those back rent payments. She’s afraid her family will be on the streets as soon as the moratorium ends.
Attorney General Maura Healey joined us on the front lines recently to talk with community members about their legal rights. From the Boston Globe:
“It’s really poignant and heartbreaking to see someone just come from the front lines working, to stand in line at a food pantry to get baby formula and diapers and food for their household,” the attorney general said in a phone interview. “I think people are really desperate…You see that people are stoic and resilient but desperate. They’re hurting.”