The reality of living in the pandemic, as we are, is that many households are struggling to pay their bills. Sometimes, when people can’t pay their bills, they call strangers and ask for help. My church is a group that people call for help. Our congregation, like many religious communities, sets aside funds for community members with dire needs. This fund is one way we demonstrate our love of neighbor.

People most often call my church for help with rent. Sometimes the people who call us can get enough money from several congregations to cover the month, or at least a couple weeks until they get paid.

Mainers are suffering because of COVID-19. I’ve learned that 1 in 3 Maine households now say they couldn’t meet basic household expenses, and 20,000-40,000 households in Maine will be unable to pay their rent and will face eviction unless they receive significant additional assistance. More than half of all Maine households with children are not sure that they will be able to afford needed food in the next four weeks. Food pantries, like the one my church supports, say there has been a 50% spike in demand for food assistance across the state.

It is clear to me that people need more help than they can get from cold-calling strangers. With federal unemployment benefits and housing protections expiring at the end of December, it is absolutely critical that Congress act before the end of the year. We, the people, have the power to help our neighbors, just like my little church does. Our elected officials in Congress must act now to pass a strong relief bill that increases SNAP to make sure Mainers have enough food and extends the eviction moratorium so people don’t lose their homes.

We don’t have to let our neighbors be hungry and homeless.

The Rev. Christina Cataldo
Sidney

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