NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The coronavirus pandemic has changed all of our daily lives, but it’s been particularly hard on low income and homeless families.

Johanna Garcia has been living with her 4-year-old daughter and 11-month-old son in a homeless shelter in the Morrisania section of the Bronx for about a year.

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“It’s something even more to worry about, keeping my children healthy,” Garcia told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.

They live in a “no cooking” shelter, so all 45 families there share one microwave.


The Department of Homeless Services says its first shipment of face coverings for residents just came in this week.

“There are some that you see with gloves. For the most part, not so much,” Garcia said.

Their room has a mini-fridge, which means almost daily trips to the grocery store, and these days it’s harder to find cheap, nonperishable food.

“Since the pandemic has started, that’s the first thing people that aim for, but that’s part of my daily grocery shopping,” Garcia said.

They don’t have a computer, so Garcia’s daughter has been using her mom’s cell phone for preschool.

Even though public schools haven’t been open since mid-March, the city Department of Education says it still has to ship at least 3,000 remote learning devices to students who requested them.

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“It’s very stressful,” Garcia said.

Garcia is a sophomore at Metropolitan College, so when her phone isn’t a preschool, she’s using it for her bachelor’s degree.

“The load of work that I would have to do just to complete a semester full-time compared to having the extra time previously where I had child care in place,” she said.

She fears the pandemic has set her back from graduating on time.

“I wanted to afford to be able get us out of here and better my life situation for my children,” Garcia said. “It’s devastating.”

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

Right now, there are 58,000 people living in New York City homeless shelters, and families make up 70% of the people in shelters.

The city says it’s proactively transferring people from larger shelters to smaller rooms and hospitalizing or isolating the more than 600 shelter residents who have tested positive.

“We’re holding up OK, at least as OK as we can,” Garcia said.

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For now, this family is thankful for their health, but worried for their future.