CYNTHIA: About the end of February, close to March, they laid us off because of the pandemic. And during…
CAMP: She was surviving. And then this pandemic, by no fault of her own, took her job away, took away her ability to pay her rent.
CYNTHIA: They laid us off. They sent the letters, saying, sign up for employment.
CAMP: She struggled to apply for unemployment benefits.
CYNTHIA: So I signed up for unemployment. I didn’t get unemployment till four for five months.
CAMP: And in fact, through the better part of last summer, she did not even receive unemployment.
CYNTHIA: I’m trying to find a place to live. I can’t find nothing. I can’t find another job. I’ve been looking and looking. It’s been a whole year now – you know, going on a year. I still can’t find anything.
SHAPIRO: We’re not using Cynthia’s last name because she doesn’t want this story to affect her future ability to find a place to live. She’s 52 and lives in the St. Louis area with her two adult kids, who’ve also struggled to find work, and her 8-year-old grandson. They’re all in a house where she owes about a year of back rent. There is sewage backing up in the pipes, and the landlord wants them to leave.
CYNTHIA: And I know these people want us out of this house. I want to be out of here just as bad they want us out ’cause I’m not like that, not paying my bills and don’t want to pay. I want to pay.