Families throughout Massachusetts are starting to feel the very real impact of the coronavirus crisis, especially with rent due for millions of Americans for the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19 turned the economy upside down.
“Help will ultimately be on the way. But with rent coming due and with bills stacking up and lack of supplies and resources that we need for our families, the pressure they’re feeling is now,” said Larry Seamans, who is president of Family Aid Boston, dedicated to the prevention of homelessness.
Seamans says the pandemic has “...actually created a perfect, a horrible perfect storm for families who are working class and trying to work their way out of poverty."
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With tens of thousands of laid off workers facing a loss of income, critical resources like daycare and in some cases even transportation, many in the middle class are feeling it, too.
Financial advisor Jim Lowell says, “One of the key things that you need to do is reach out to your banker, reach out to your landlord. Don’t try and keep it a secret if you’re going to struggle to meet, not just April’s payment, but potentially May’s payment, as well.”
Lowell says very few people have the recommended three to six months of emergency cash on hand adding, “...we were awfully used to living I think maybe a month or two ahead of ourselves. So now is a perfect time to live way beneath your means."
Most states and local governments have stopped evictions to give time for unemployment benefits and federal stimulus checks to arrive. But there is still plenty of worry that even if April's payment is delayed, the rent will still come due before many industries are up and running again. Nearly 3.3. million people in the U.S. filed unemployment claims for the week of March 16, as the shutdown from the virus started.
If you're worried about paying your bills, here are some tips:
First, contact your landlord, bank or utility company to request a hardship accomodation. Second, a number of the big credit card companies are offering concessions including deferring payments or waiving fees. Check to see if your landlord is suspending evictions, and find out if utility and student loan companies are offering assistance programs.
One woman told NBC10 Boston she did all of those things. Dulsilina Tavares was laid off from her daycare job last week and was one of the 150,000 who filed for unemployment in the commonwealth.
She's worried about what happens down the road.
"It’s a personal shock to where I don’t know how I’m going to either pay for my bills or continue to provide for my son," she said.
The federal stimulus checks should bring a small bit of relief to many in Tavares' situation, but those checks may still take a few weeks.