Preventing Evictions for Those Impacted by the Pandemic
Patty wasn’t used to dreading an interaction with her landlord. “I’ve never not paid my rent,” she said. But when she lost her job as an office manager due to COVID-19 and her health issues, Patty struggled financially. “I felt bad leaving my landlord in the lurch.”
The single mom of two kids, ages 9 and 11 months, is also raising her 16-year-old cousin. They were doing fine, until the pandemic struck. Suddenly Patty was without a job and her kids were home doing remote learning.
As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, Patty also has type 1 diabetes and in January of 2020 had a diabetic retinopathy that left her vision severely impaired. “When I was cooking, I couldn’t see salt. When I was at stairs, I couldn’t see their depth,” she said, adding that driving was out of the question for a while. Trying to focus brought on horrible headaches.
Thankfully, her vision has improved greatly with treatments, but each has required substantial downtime to heal, which is difficult when you’re a single mom, trying to find a job, in the middle of a pandemic.
While Patty qualified for government assistance for food for her struggling family, she had a harder time finding help paying her rent. Suddenly she worried, “What if they kick us out? With all the world going to crap, I didn’t want to lose our home too.”
When she called 311, the operator suggested she try The Salvation Army. Staff at our Norridge Corps Community Center covered some of her back rent, which brought immediate relief.
“It meant a lot to me,” she said. “A home base has always been important to me. While everything is so crazy, this brought a sense of stability back. They even reached out to me again to see if I needed more help!”
Less Hours, More Worry
COVID-19 had a similar impact on Diana, a single mom of three girls, ages 12, 9, and 7. She works at McDonalds, and when the pandemic closed down their indoor dining, her hours got cut from 38 a week to 29, a significant difference for a family just making ends meet.
“That definitely took away from our financial situation,” Diana said. “I worried about paying our rent and utilities.” Like Patty, her children were also doing school remotely, a challenge for a family with three children and two computers.
While Diana is grateful for the hours she is able to work, she’s concerned about working with money and customers. “I’m sanitizing my hands all day,” she said. “I can’t bring anything home to my babies.”
When Diana went to the Norridge corps for assistance, they provided a month of her back rent, as well as a food box, and Christmas presents last December.
“I honestly don’t know what I would have done without that help,” she said. “It means a lot. I’m very thankful.” She also said the help means a lot to her girls, even though they don’t necessarily know about it. “Things get taken care of; they don’t know where it came from.” For this loving mom, it’s a relief that they don’t even notice.
“The Salvation Army means a lot. It’s great for people in need,” she said. “It’s just an awesome place.”
“2020 was a tough and sad year for me,” said Penelope*, a single woman impacted by COVID-19. “I lost my job, all my bills are behind, and things got very hard for me because I have never been without a job.”
Suddenly she had to live on unemployment checks, but those are based on your salary. Penelope is a tipped employee, and the lack of that extra income made her finances very tight. “I couldn’t keep up with my rent, bills, insurance, and putting food on the table,” she said.
When she wasn’t able to get help from any rental assistance programs, she searched the internet one night for other options. “I came across The Salvation Army, and what a blessing that was,” she said.
We helped her with back rent, which allowed her to get caught up on some of her bills.
“This organization means a lot because when you need help and have no one to turn to, you can count on The Salvation Army,” Penelope said. “Thanks for everything, and God bless!”
*Name changed to protect client’s privacy.