Some who lost jobs overnight due to COVID-19 shutdowns take to social media to crowdfund rent money

The financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic left many people without a job overnight, causing some to take to social media in desperation to crowdfund money to cover their rent.

Last week, more than 3.3 million Americans — a record number — applied for unemployment benefits. Layoffs were expected to surge as the the U.S. economy sinks into a recession while authorities struggle to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

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One Twitter user named Elizabeth wrote that her landlord “will not budge on rent,” telling Storyful that the surgery center she worked at shuttered after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the temporary delay of all non-emergency surgeries.

Elizabeth tweeted a link to her PayPal and other apps used to transfer money online in a desperate bid to source the money she needed to make her rent from kind-hearted strangers on social media. 

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Elizabeth told Storyful that she has raised $20 so far from her crowdfunding efforts, but worries about how her rent of $1,375 will be paid. 

Margaret Murphy, a Los Angeles-based photographer, lost her two serving jobs, which were her main source of income, after Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a statewide shutdown of non-essential businesses. 

COVID-19 Bay Area Restaurants Closed

FILE - Chairs are wrapped in caution tape at a restuarant in Dublin, California following shelter in place orders in the San Francisco Bay Area during an outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, March 16, 2020.

Murphy started a GoFundMe with some of her coworkers in hopes of raising money for hourly employees at one of the restaurants she worked at who have lost their jobs because of the financial crisis caused by the pandemic.

She also reached out to various self-described “Twitter philanthropists” who have announced several giveaway donations to help those left with dwindling incomes and little to no prospect of being able to pay rent. 

“It’s comforting to know that there are people out there seeing these calls to action and requests for assistance and donating, you know,” said Murphy. “I’m just taking it a day at a time, I’m just grateful to have food, a home and a cat to snuggle.” 

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Murphy says that while she doesn’t have the largest social media following, it has been incredibly helpful for her to share her circumstances online, prompting friends and other loved ones to reach out to her for assistance. 

“I think people are really thinking about the speed at which it can reach large amounts of people,” Murphy said. “I’ve received leads on aid resources on Instagram stories and tweets consistently over the past two weeks and have been  so grateful that people are just sharing anything that could be helpful to anyone at all.”