BALTIMORE — She came here to Highlandtown to buy groceries, but a woman who would only identify herself by her first name, ‘Jen’, shared her story as one of the many Marylanders who have struggled due to the pandemic.
“I haven’t worked since the middle of March,” Jen told us. “I lost my job and unemployment ran out. I went up to sign up last night. I just got an email that I’m not on there so I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Advocates for people thrust into such hardships from Progressive Maryland and the Working Families Party have toured the state this week, filming similar stories and plan to show them to lawmakers outside the State House on a mobile, billboard truck when the session convenes on Wednesday.
Lawmakers who prematurely ended their last session and never came back.
“Now they have an opportunity to help people who are now behind on their rent, who are behind on mortgage payments facing foreclosures and evictions and they also have to opportunity to make sure essential workers get protected,” said Larry Stafford, Progressive Maryland’s executive director.
The groups are also seeking help for people caring for sick family members, those facing medical debt and those who can’t afford healthcare.
And people like ‘Jen’, who worked for an industry hit hardest by the pandemic, and now left struggling to survive.
“I didn’t pay rent so I’m going grocery shopping instead,” said Jen.
“So that’s the tough choices?” we asked.
“Yes. I’m stocking up,” she replied. “I haven’t paid the electric bill. I haven’t paid the rent. You know, if they want to shut me off or kick me out so be it. I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.”