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House keepers, babysitters, dog walkers struggling financially as coronavirus outbreak continues

Posted: 7:49 PM, Mar 26, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-26 19:55:07-04

NEW YORK — Everyone is struggling as the coronavirus outbreak continues and Latino workers who often work off the books have been hit particularly hard.

They aren’t entitled to unemployment benefits because they work off the books. Silvia, a woman who has been cleaning other people’s homes and apartments across Brooklyn for 15 years, said her jobs disappeared once New York was placed on PAUSE.

“I am deeply worried because of the lockdown," Siliva told PIX11 through an interpreter. "There is no money."

She was always paid in cash, off the books, and she now doesn’t know how she’ll feed her family or pay her rent.

“Their homes depend on their incomes,” Jamie San Andres, project coordinator for Make The Road NY, told PIX11 News. “Not having that income is not only impacting their housing, but also their mental health."

Make The Road NY is an immigrant rights group particularly concerned about the close to a quarter million domestic workers in New York State.

About 41 percent of Latinos in New York City have lost their jobs because of coronavirus compared to 24 percent for non-Latino and Asian Americans and 15 percent for African-American respondents to a CUNY survey.

Hispanic workers are hit the hardest, experts say, because many are domestic workers or in service jobs at restaurants or hotels.

But others are suffering too.

“I have had no business and no income for close to one month,” Anji Lineback, a professional dog walker and babysitter, told PIX11 News. “And I have a 62-year-old husband, with underlying health issues."

Lineback is usually walking other people dogs or babysitting in Cadman Plaza Park.

But now parents and dog owners are doing those jobs and there is no cash coming in for Lineback.

Some parents, however, are trying to help their babysitters out.

“We’re giving her a few days a week so she can pay her bills and her rent,” Brin Reinhardt, a mother of a 4-year-old, told PIX11 News. “And so we can function."

To help those without any money coming in, Make The Road NY is pushing for a rent freeze in these difficult times.

Palak Shah, social innovations director of the Care Fund at National Domestic Workers Alliance, said their coronavirus fund is an emergency assistance fund for domestic workers facing hardship as a result of the pandemic.

"The goal of the fund is to raise $4 million to support 10,000 workers," Shah said. "A social safety net is a necessity for all of us, but many working people like domestic workers do not have the ability to save up for emergencies, take time off, or have access to affordable or reliable healthcare."

Donations will go to nannies, house cleaners, and homecare workers. You can donate here.