I have always been a problem-solver but after more than a year-and-a-half of working hard to get through the pandemic, my family and I are facing the biggest challenges of our lives. Before the pandemic my husband Anthony had a thriving business as a mechanic and car detailer and I had a successful career in customer service. We had just qualified for a mortgage and we were planning to buy a home for ourselves and our five kids.
Then COVID changed everything and put a huge strain on our family business. Anthony serviced customers’ cars at their homes, but the coronavirus made that dangerous so Anthony rented a shop. It was an extra expense but it seemed worth it as more people came in and we thought we could weather the storm.
As the months progressed, times got tougher for customers, our business and our family. I was laid off, but the more generous unemployment benefits helped us pay our bills. The stimulus checks and expanded child tax credit helped us keep food on the table and the eviction protections helped keep a roof over our heads.
Then, just as the government support our family needed was coming to an end, we faced our biggest series of crises yet. In August, just a few days into the new school year, there was a COVID outbreak at our children’s school and the whole family got sick. Anthony couldn’t work for weeks due to illness and quarantine. Three weeks ago, a leak from the apartment above us caused major damage in our home. We had to pay $1,000 we had intended for our rent to stay in a hotel for a week. Then our car was stolen from the hotel parking lot.
Now we’re back in our apartment but it hasn’t been fully repaired and the management company is more focused on collecting our rent than ensuring it is habitable. Last week we got a notice telling us that we had five days to pay the rent we owe or we’ll be evicted.
As a couple who had thriving careers, a successful business and a middle-class lifestyle, it has been a shock to see how quickly the security we’re used to can be wiped away and how little support there is for families like ours. Many others are in the same boat. On the same day we got our threat of eviction, Anthony saw the letter carrier delivering a huge stack of eviction notices in our complex.
We are conservative Trump voters but we’re urging Sen. Sinema to support the Biden Administration’s proposals to help families like ours get back on their feet. We need to rebuild our country’s infrastructure and economy with good jobs so I can get back to work and Anthony’s customers can get back to work and afford to get their cars serviced and support other local small businesses. And it only seems right to pay for these programs by raising taxes on those who can afford to pay more.
We also need more support for families and children. We need to make the expanded child tax credit permanent — that monthly check has been a lifeline for us. We need additional rental support, child care support and more affordable utilities.
Sen. Sinema, everyday people are facing the toughest time in their lives. My husband and I are honest people just trying to get healthy and get back to work, pay off our debts and get back to the life we’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Hard-working Arizonans are calling out for help but it feels like we’re not being heard in Washington. Please fight for Arizona families so we can truly recover from this pandemic.
Editor's note: Francis Pitts lives in Phoenix and is a member of WorkMoney, a nonprofit advocacy organization.
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