How Gig Workers Are Surviving the Virus Shutdown

“My divorce messed with my finances, and I was just starting to recover from that,” she said. “What I realized with this coronavirus situation is how vulnerable I am to not making ends meet. Without those side gigs, I have no security. I’m 36, living this roommate, side-hustle life I never thought I’d have to do at this age.”

In March, she started to cut back on anything that was a luxury, including her gym membership, Hulu and Netflix. She has autoimmune issues, though, so she is keeping, for now, her monthly $100 membership fee at a medical group.

Worse, she has no idea how long this will last. She applied for federal help with student loan forbearance, and she expects to save $450 monthly in payments starting in May, though eventually she will have to make the postponed payments. Still, she wonders if her landlord will ease up on the rent, if things drag on.

“My biggest worry is sliding back into personal debt,” she said. “Since I’ve been working part time tutoring and babysitting, I’ve been able to make enough to stay out of credit card debt. At 36, what I’d like to do is have money to move out on my own and have emergency funds if something like this happens.”

She knows that despite these hardships, there are people who are in much more tenuous situations. “Being an educator, this just highlights educational inequality,” she said. “You see the differences families have, from wealthy families who can pay you during a shutdown to families without laptops or internet.”

Being close to her own family, especially her 92-year-old grandmother Helen Losapio, who lives by herself in Yonkers, was the main reason she returned to New York. She used to visit her weekly. Not anymore.

“My biggest worry is my grandma,” she said. “Because I have been exposed to multiple people, I can’t spend time with her. She’s really lonely, and not being able to see her makes it even harder.”

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