COVID Relief Helps Residents Bridge the Gap
CAC Helping Small Business Owners, Contract Workers and More
By the end of July CAC had distributed almost $1 million in COVID relief, most of it to help residents experiencing job loss pay rent to avoid eviction. Here are the stories of a couple of people CAC has provided COVID relief to. Both work in industries were shutdown in March and are just now trying to re-open for business.
Shirley is a small business owner who works in the trade show industry. She sells merchandise to retailers. Her income is 100 % commission. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the trade show industry was the first to be shut down in March and hasn’t reopened yet.
“This has created huge challenges for people who own small businesses,” she said. “More people need to understand the broad impact the financial crisis is having, not just on those we typically think of. “
When the trade shows were cancelled, her business rent was not. She was faced with paying rent for her business and her residence with no income coming in. To make matters worse, sales she made at the low-attended February show were cancelled yet she incurred expenses for booth rent and contract employees.
“When I’m working I make good money but the reality is when you can’t work your bills don’t change,” Shirley said.
A long-time fundraiser for the United Way to help abused women and children, Shirley was now the one contacting the United Way for help. They referred her to CAC. She knew of this place, she has donated clothes there before. CAC helped Shirley with her April rent while she waited for unemployment benefits. She went 2 months before getting unemployment and has gone 6 months without income from her business.
“I’m so grateful for the help I am getting, but at the same time never in my wildest dreams would I ever think I would need assistance,” she said. “Who would ever think something like this would happen?”
A show is planned for August. Shirley is hopeful that some of her retail store customers will be there buying so she can re-start her business. Once she’s back on her feet she plans to support and volunteer at CAC to help others in need.
Life Turned Upside Down
Things were going well for Steve and his family with a young daughter and twins on the way. But since the coronavirus crisis began they have lived with uncertainty and stress. He’s a private contractor in the film and TV industry. They moved to GA for work 5 years ago.
When the coronavirus crisis began in March he was impacted right away, his industry has been shut down since and is not planning on coming back until maybe January of next year. His wife who works for a day care center was also sent home. They cut their household budget but by late April were running out of savings. St. Vincent de Paul pledged $300 toward their rent and referred them to CAC where Steve talked to Bob on our assistance team. CAC covered the balance of their rent for May.
“We were extremely grateful, I’m embarrassed, but grateful. I just want to thank the people of CAC,” he said through tears. His wife began to receive unemployment benefits but Steve has yet to despite applying 2 months ago. “If I could get unemployment we could make it but right now we are really struggling,” he said.
Without enough funds for June rent the couple is trying sell belongings for cash, going to their landlord to request relief and considering moving to live with family in California. CAC is helping as many families as possible but the need is great. Your donations make an immediate impact on the lives of our neighbors like Steve facing difficult situations.