With raffles, food sales and fundraisers, Latinos do their best to avoid debt


[ Article was originally posted on www.calmatters.org ]

By Araceli Martinez Ortega, CalMatters,

In summary

Food sales, money pools and fundraising campaigns have been a lifesaver for many families affected by the pandemic.

Lea este artículo en español.

When Claudia Badillo began to accumulate debts after she lost her house cleaning job when the pandemic hit, she decided to sell food.

“I invited a friend who is good at cooking and we agreed that she would cook and I would take care of the sales and deliver orders,” Badillo said. “We would distribute the profits equally.”

The preparation and sale of Central American food kept Badillo from falling into a spiral of debt. “The first few months before I sold food, my children and my friends were lending me (money) to pay the rent, utility bills, car insurance and tuition at the cosmetology school I attend,” Badillo said.

Without a job during the health crisis, many families have turned to credit cards or borrowing from family and friends to pay their bills. Some have turned to online fundraisers or pooled resources. Others have sought to reduce their expenses by asking to make smaller payments on car loans or career-education courses. Badillo says that her cosmetology school lowered her monthly payment from $400 to $250.

Debt deferral

A recent congressional report found that the $2 trillion CARES Act economic aid package, along with other debt deferral programs and enhanced unemployment benefits, have helped prevent many consumers from defaulting on their debts. However, as the pandemic drags on, it’s not clear what will happen to consumer debt in the future.

Rigoberto Barboza, a former Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient who is now a permanent resident, was forced to close his travel agency, “Navega Travel Tours and Cruises” in La Puente in Los Angeles County.

Portrait of Rigoberto Barboza. Photo by Aurelia Ventura, La Opinión.

At the beginning of the pandemic, he worked from home in hopes that the economy would reopen quickly, but as the pandemic spread, he was forced to close. With no income, he dipped into savings and maxed out his credit cards. With a wife and a son, Barboza didn’t see a better option but to enlist in the National Guard.

“My training begins in March, but from the first day they are going to start paying me, which will allow me to get ahead with my expenses and pay my debts,” he said.

By December, unemployment among Latinos was even higher than the national average, 9.3% versus 6.7%, according to the most recent report from the organization UnidosUS, formerly the National Council of La Raza.

That’s twice the 4% unemployment rate before the pandemic. 

Food sale

Mayra Todd, an activist and leader of Mujeres de Hoy, a Los Angeles organization that helps women victims of domestic violence, says many unemployed immigrants have reached out for money-making ideas in the pandemic.

“My first question was: What can you do,” Todd said. “Most of them know how to cook, and I suggest they should plan to start selling food.”

Herhe organization has supported women with equipment, which has allowed them to sell fruit or vegetable juices. Others have started a pastry business selling cupcakes.

Todd also has organized countless fundraising campaigns for unemployed families. “We raise money through the different applications and online sites that exist,” she says.

SOURCE: https://calmatters.org/california-divide/2021/02/latinos-gofundme-avoid-debt/

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