Life feels really tenuous right now. I have a job with Amazon, but that’s after a year of job hunting. And even though I am grateful to have a job now, I often have to work double shifts — sometimes starting at 1:45am — just to keep myself afloat. It feels like any day, the rug could be pulled out from under me.
Up until the pandemic hit, I was doing alright. I had work at a temp agency, and I was keeping on top of my finances. But then the company I was working with abruptly went out of business.
One by one, I soon fell behind on all of my bills. I even found myself bartering with my elderly landlady to pay my rent on my Phoenix apartment, ultimately agreeing to serve as her part-time home care aide — and cooking and cleaning for her — in return for a discount on my monthly payment.
I was 51 years old at the time, and I was determined to find new employment. The pandemic had hurt local employers badly.
I’m not afraid of hard work, and I feel lucky to even be able to work double shifts. Even with an income, I have to stay on a strict budget, and I have to carefully watch every penny. I’m in a new apartment, yet I still regularly have to borrow money to pay my rent on time.
Asking people to lend you money to help you cover your rent isn’t an enjoyable experience. I live in a steady state of worry and anxiety that I may reach a point where I lose my place to live because I can’t come up with the money.
And it’s not just me. Lots of people I know have suffered in an economy damaged by the Covid pandemic. One of my sons, for example, hasn’t been able to find a good-paying job to support a household with five young kids. His family lives in cramped quarters. If better jobs and better housing were available, they’d be in much better shape all around.
I’m tired of feeling like this. This year, I joined a nonprofit advocacy organization called WorkMoney where hardworking Americans like me push Congress to create good jobs for people like me, and to lower the cost of living for people here in Phoenix and across the country.
I voted for Donald Trump, but it doesn’t matter what your politics are. It’s time for our politicians in Washington to start thinking about the average, working people who are really taking it on the chin because of this pandemic.
I’m sending an urgent message to Senator Kyrsten Sinema and the rest of the elected officials who are supposed to represent us in Arizona: you need to pass legislation like the two big bills currently making their way through congress – one focused on infrastructure jobs, the other on the budget.
These bills would make better-paying jobs available to the people of Phoenix, and help people like my son get better work. They would also deliver more opportunities for affordable housing, which would be a lifeline for so many Arizonans. And they’ll extend the Child Tax Credit and offer help with child care costs, which would be a huge help to people like my son — and go a long way toward helping him support his family.
Senator Sinema, I urge you to show leadership on these issues, and to prove to the people of Arizona that you are fighting for our interests.
We’re counting on you!
Cathie Marks is a Phoenix resident.