Rent is due Nov. 1, and like millions of Floridians I’m facing unaffordable bills and the possibility of losing the roof over my head. Florida has made progress by approving eviction protections, but those protections have not been extended to the end of the year. In my opinion, what we really need is a statewide minimum wage pay raise to $15 an hour. That’s why I’m voting yes on Amendment 2.
This July 10 was my 24th birthday. Instead of the traditional celebration of eating cake and blowing out candles with friends and family, I was locked in my bedroom, by myself, sick with COVID-19. Unfortunately, my sister also tested positive, shortly after I did. For the next month we didn’t have any income, because she was unemployed and I was quarantining without paid sick leave.
It was a difficult realization to accept – that my sister and I were now one of the more than 726,000 Floridians who tested positive for this virus. I was scared for my life, for my family’s health and for our future. And without paid sick leave it wasn’t just COVID that threatened my life. Like many other families, we could have ended up without electricity, running water or evicted with nowhere to live.
As an essential worker at Popeyes in Fort Lauderdale, this pandemic has been a financial nightmare. At times, I have been unable to pay my rent. I only make $10 an hour, so I had to take on a second job as a cashier at DTLR to help make ends meet. I moved in with my mother, because even with two jobs I still can’t afford to live on my own with the high cost of living in Florida.
COVID-19 is amplifying the crisis of poverty and structural racism that essential workers of color have.