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Valley mother shares financial struggles amid COVID-19

Posted at 8:06 PM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 01:24:05-04

PHOENIX — NPR released a national survey Wednesday that shows that nearly half of Americans said they're having serious financial problems because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted the poll between July 1, 2020 - August 2, 2020.

Lynda Naranjo is one of the 3,000 people who took the poll. She is a single mother of four and the sole provider for her three youngest kids.

"I am so stressed out, most nights I don't sleep. It's terrifying. I've never been in a situation where I wasn't able to provide for myself and my children," said Naranjo. "In my little bubble here it was hard to see that there was other people that were struggling just like me. But now to see the numbers and how relatively high they are, it's extremely disheartening, it's saddening... that there are so many of us."

The survey found:

*46% of Americans said they're having "serious financial problems"
*46% reported people in the house had lost jobs or businesses, had been furloughed or had wages reduced since the coronavirus outbreak
*31% said they had used up all or most of their savings
*One in six households reported missing or delaying paying major bills just so they could buy food

In May, Naranjo was laid off from her job as an accounting manager for a tow company. She eventually received unemployment insurance, which helped until the extra $600 in federal benefits ran out.

"And then President Trump signed where we had the additional $300. But even $500 a week raising three children by myself isn't going to cut it. But I made it work."

Those extra funds ran out earlier this month. About 400,000 Arizonans collecting unemployment benefits now only receive the state max payout of $240 a week.

Naranjo said she's saved some money, but those savings will be depleted by the end of the month.

"It's been very difficult to find employment now because of COVID, on top of the fact that my children and being schooled from home because schools are not open. As a single mom, what are we supposed to do? It's either teach our children or go to work."

Naranjo said APS and her landlord have allowed her to delay some of her payments, but she knows she'll have to pay those big bills soon.

"This is extremely difficult for me to not know how I'm going to provide the next month for my children," she said.

Naranjo --like many--is worried Congress won't come to an agreement to pass another relief package, especially now that the focus is on finding a new Supreme Court justice.

There hasn't been any movement from state leaders on Arizona's weekly payout, despite having the second-lowest benefit in the nation.