Rent’s due, again: Monthly anxieties deepen as aid falls offJuly 31, 2020
Sakai Harrison moved to New York to try to make it as a personal trainer and designer – but his gym shuttered early in the pandemic, and after weeks of struggling to both pay the rent and put food in his fridge, he knew what he had to do.
He moved back to Georgia for greater stability.
In May, he left his Brooklyn apartment and its $1,595 monthly rent for Atlanta. When the first of the month rolls around, his new place costs about $400 less – and it’s larger.
“This is the biggest silver lining I’ve ever seen,” he said.
He’s training with a few one-on-one clients, and he’s launched a boot camp with a dozen more.
This week, he met four of them at a park, where they did lunging squats, pull-ups, and a military-like crawl. Harrison then led them into a gym for dumbbell exercises. They didn’t wear masks for virus protection – Harrison says they take precautions, but pointed out that the state doesn’t mandate face coverings.
Harrison modeled the proper form and pace, corrected the men when needed, and gently teased when they tired or slowed down. Some shot barbs back, and Harrison smiled.
He’s charging clients slightly less than he got at Blink Fitness in New York, but that amount’s helping him develop an apparel brand. He’s taking orders for a line of shoes, T-shirts and hats.
Barring another shutdown, Harrison said, “I’ll be fine.”
– Aaron Morrison, New York, and Ron Harris, Atlanta
Financial challenges keep piling up for Roushaunda Williams months after she lost her job of nearly 20 years tending bar at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in downtown Chicago.
Potential reopening dates for the hotel have been pushed back, Williams said, and hospitality jobs remain scarce. She anticipates being unable to pay her $1,900 rent by September — especially if Congress doesn’t reauthorize the weekly $600 in additional unemployment aid as part of a new relief package.
Williams, 52, said she asked the management company that owns her apartment for a rent reduction or other help. So far, she’s been told her rent will just accrue if she can’t pay.
The Illinois governor recently extended a moratorium on evictions into August. Still, Williams worries about debt piling up while she’s unemployed.
“I’ve exhausted my savings,” she said. “So I don’t have a safety net at all now.”
– Kathleen Foody, Chicago
Jas Wheeler once hoped to ride out the pandemic and return to work at a Vermont bakery. Not anymore.
Wheeler, 30, is immunocompromised and fears going back to the bakery would increase risk of infection. The former social worker started working at a small grocery store that pays less but allows more room for social distancing.
Wheeler took the gig in anticipation of losing the $600 weekly unemployment aid. That money ensured Wheeler and their wife, Lucy, could afford their $850 monthly mortgage payment.
The couple closed on their house in Vergennes the same day Wheeler was laid off in March. Wheeler’s wife kept her jobs,…