By Keya Vakil

As the coronavirus pandemic wrecked the economy last March, Maria Lopez—like millions of many other Americans—lost her job. The travel and leisure sectors came to a screeching halt, and Lopez, 53, was furloughed from her job as a room attendant at the Westin Hotel in downtown Phoenix. She qualified for unemployment benefits, but the impact of losing work was still devastating for Lopez and her family.

“It was very difficult for all of us to be able to pay the mortgage,” Lopez said.

The Arizona resident is used to working hard, especially with such a large family: She and her husband have six children who range from nine to 36. “It wasn’t easy, but at least we were able to pay all the bills. It was stable,” Lopez said. “But after the pandemic, everything changed.”

While they were able to keep a roof over their heads, the couple fell behind on credit card payments and other bills. They struggled to help their 9-year-old daughter with remote learning—an experience Lopez described as “terrible.” Lopez also lost several friends to COVID-19 and spent a month sick herself with a nasty bout of pneumonia.

2020 was, simply put, a very bad year.

Read Article