The pandemic has disproportionately impacted the borough, which already had its share of challenges, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Thursday.
“We’re not okay. No one is ready. No one is okay. Everyone is struggling,” said Jocelyne Rojas of Bronxworks Food Pantry.
The 26-year-old was furloughed from her once-full-time retail job. She’s back to work, but only 15 hours a week.
“What I make is not enough for me to feed myself, try to feed my mother, maintain an apartment. You still have your phone bill,” Rojas said.
She’s not alone.
The city’s unemployment rate is at around 14%, but in the Bronx it’s nearly 19%, the highest of any borough.
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Bronxworks tries to fill the gap through various programs. It tripled the number of pantry locations to 12 and extended hours and days of service, including at the Morris Senior Center.
“For the days that we’re open for the general population, we’ve seen 80% of the people that are coming in now for this particular pantry are all new to us,” said Eileen Torres, Bronxworks’ executive director.
City and state assistance that includes eviction and utility moratoriums have been helpful, but many fear what will happen when that’s lifted.
“Shortly after New York City became the epicenter of the pandemic, the Bronx really becomes the epicenter of the epicenter,” Torres said.
COVID-19 has been particularly deadly in the borough, with its dense population, large number of essential workers and high instances of pre-existing conditions.
“I’ve lost about eight of my friends,” resident Lezrette Hutchinson said.
Like many seniors, Hutchinson mourns alone, struggling with the forced social isolation.
“I’m very depressed. I’m very depressed behind it,” Hutchinson said.
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On Tuesday, voters re-elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Newcomers Ritchie Torres and Jamaal Bowman also won their congressional races. They have all vowed to address the deep disparities in the Bronx.
As recovery comes with a lot more ground to make up.
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