“I have never, ever missed a rent payment… until now.”
Every passing week, more residents express increasing levels of uncertainty. Like the rest of the nation, when non-essential businesses were temporarily shut down, APAH residents were under the assumption their workplaces would only be closed for a few weeks and they’d have been asked to come back to work by now. Some have, but others are learning their positions have been cut and there are no jobs to return to.
While many residents have experienced decreased income due to hours cut and jobs lost, a fortunate subset of households qualified for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) from the federal government until the program expired this week. This additional income helped temporarily stabilize these families, who are once again facing an uncertain financial future.
It is unclear if these benefits will be extended past July, even at a lower level of support. The House and Senate are currently negotiating the next iteration of stimulus benefits, which may or may not include unemployment benefits and a second stimulus check.
Thanks to the generosity of our community, APAH and our resident services team have resources, including APAH’s Resident Emergency Fund, to help households put food on their tables and stay in their apartments.
“We had good jobs. Benefits, vacation—we were thinking of buying a house. Now we have no income coming in, and I do not know what we are going to do.”
Currently, 40% of APAH households are already facing an outstanding balance. Continued economic instability and the expiration of PUA will undoubtedly increase this number. APAH acted in March to suspend evictions due to COVID-related financial hardships. This decreased the urgent fears of residents, but they still worry how they will manage other bills. Some households have reached their credit card limits just to meet their basic needs. And yet, residents are coping, adapting, and focusing on the possibilities. During APAH’s check in calls, most residents say they are “okay” or “maintaining.” The fear around rent and bills is ongoing, but residents still find fun ways to engage their children or exercise together as a family.
Their resilience is seen in the creative ways they find to supplement their incomes–or lack thereof– by doing yard work or running errands for others. They are working with APAH’s resident services team and their property management to create rental payment plans and get connected to rental assistance programs through the Department of Human Services, Arlington THRIVE, and others to help bring down their balances as much as possible.
“I need to work to pay the rent, but how am I going to when my children aren’t in school? If only one of us works, how will we pay all of our bills?”
Parents are facing another conundrum as the school year approaches. With Arlington students attending virtual classes through at least October, residents will be forced to balance school and work in unrealistic ways. Parents unable to work remotely cannot reenter the workforce until they have a safe place to send their children; and even for those working at home, the digital divide puts immense pressure on parents challenged by new technology or lacking reliable internet.
The generosity of our community has already made a big impact on APAH’s residents. Our resident services team has been able to address and meet many basic needs thanks to expanded outreach and personal, one-to-one calls. But we know the need only continues to grow. While we wait to see how the federal government responds, you can help support residents.
Advocate locally: Contact your state and local elected leaders and ask them to support affordable housing and resources that help our low-income neighbors.
Advocate federally: Urge your representatives and senators to include expanded unemployment benefits and emergency rent relief in the upcoming stimulus package.
Donate: Give to APAH’s resident emergency fund to help provide financial assistance when other sources fall short.
Jessica Stuart, Resident Service Coordinator, narrated this article and shared what she has been hearing from residents.