Josh’s Story: Trouble Affording the Basic Necessities

Meet Josh, who’s currently disabled and living with his wife in Oregon City, Oregon.

Where do you live?

I live in Oregon City in a low-income apartment. Compared to when I first moved in, nothing has really changed except now the economy is different.

In our email communication, you mentioned that you’re disabled. Has the coronavirus impacted your everyday life?

My wife stays at home and I do the shopping. I call her when I’m at the store, then send pictures of what’s available. Depending on how much I have to pick up, I take my foldable cart.

Personally, I fall in the “at risk” category because I’m Type 2 diabetic and disabled. I feel cheated out when I go to the stores and try to buy things for my household. Because my wife and I don’t have a car, I have to walk to the stores. The three closest grocery stores within walking distance are the Grocery Outlet, Safeway, and Frey Meyers.

It’s harder for people with no car. Most places here you need a car because buses don’t cut it. For instance, you can’t even get fast food because they only do drive through. It kind of seems discriminatory. I honestly feel discriminated against that I can’t do things like that, even more so now because of coronavirus.

What’s your financial situation been like recently?

We had to borrow some money. We’re lucky enough that we were able to borrow the money or we’d be out of luck. My wife and I have been doing online shopping on Walmart because they offer free shipping on orders $35 or more. The only downside is the stores aren’t keeping up with the demand and nothing is being restocked in time.

It was really hard for my wife to find work even before this whole coronavirus thing. In this time of crisis, there’s no way to save. I only get $783 a month from disability. Thank goodness I only pay $127 a month for rent. I also get food stamps, which helps. But every time my disability paycheck goes up, my food stamps go down.

Have you notice any significant changes when trying to purchase items online?

I noticed someone was selling cans of Lysol for over $500 on eBay. This is how I’m learning how hard the virus has hit the US. The prices online are racked up because they’re essentials. I’ve even seen a single can of Lysol going for $50. Luckily enough, I bought a 144oz container of Pine-Sol a while back. I looked online recently, and it was out of stock.

What’s it like being on food stamps at a time like this?

I get them on the 2nd of every month, but I’ve still got to fork out cash for us to last until next month.

Do you think your life will be different when the pandemic is over?

I don’t know if it’ll be significantly different, but I imagine that I’d be able to find things on the shelves. Right now, by the time I get paid, it’s gone.

Life could be more normal right now if we had better policies in place such as not being allowed to hoard things or setting a maximum that you’re allowed to buy of some items. Stores have to be stricter with these things. They need to have the national guard in these stores to make sure people are getting what they’re supposed to be getting. Everybody needs something. If you’ve got all the soap, how are other people supposed to wash up?

It makes me tear up to hear stores opening up an hour early for elderly and immunocompromised to get stuff they need. When I go there, it’s empty. Also, our truck drivers are busting their butts to get us what we need, but people keep hoarding it.

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