To the editor:
As a single mother of three, our budget is always tight. Keeping up with bills, groceries and clothes for my three children is difficult, and with no family in the area, childcare is a huge factor in our family budget. I work at CVS as a pharmacy technician and while it is enough to pay the bills, it is difficult to build up a large savings.
When COVID-19 hit, our economic situation was pushed to the brink, my hours were cut back and we were regularly dipping into our savings. Thankfully, I heard about and was able to take advantage of the ALX Cares Grocery Gift Card Program, which provided my family with the means to continue living our lives. It felt like I was falling and at the last minute I was caught. I can’t tell you how much it meant to my family to feel supported and cared for by our community in this way.
While the pandemic is coming to a close and I am back to a full work schedule, it is still difficult to return to normal. I had a car accident a few months ago and it seems like I am still digging out of the financial hole the pandemic has put my family and so many others in. There are a lot of families that need support in Alexandria and when I think about what is needed for our city to truly recover, the grocery card program comes to mind.
A number of proposals are being considered regarding how to spend the funds received from the American Rescue Plan Act. One of those plans is a guaranteed basic income program that would provide $500 per month for two years to 150 families like mine. Families like mine are working as hard as they can to make ends meet, but it often feels like the cards are stacked against us.
A GBI program would provide us the support we need to stand strong on our own and pursue our dreams and goals. I am currently in graduate school trying to further my career but living in economic uncertainty is a constant risk to that dream.
GBI would allow people like me to have more security and more breathing room so we can survive common issues like a car accident or trip to the doctor. It shows that the community is here for one another, and we want to help each other succeed and thrive. I am writing this letter to urge City Council to fully fund the GBI pilot so families like mine can have the economic security they need.
-Rabaaeladawia Hassan, Alexandria