Irene immigrated to San Jose in the 1980’s. She used to work in the Philippines as a teacher, and moved to the United States with her one and a half year old daughter. She worked at first in the electronics industry as an assembly worker in Cupertino, and then began working in nursing homes as a caregiver. She calls for increased budgets and assistance for the patients and workers in the nursing homes so there can be quality care. After working in care homes for two decades, she began working at the San Jose Events Center as an usher, yet when the pandemic hit, she was laid off. She shares not having the resources to pay the monthly bills and difficulties in applying for unemployment, especially as a retiree. 

So now, I worry a little bit because I only have my Social Security. I am partly retired. And I am very ancient, I am 68 years old, and I am still working [laughing] because of course, the Social Security benefits really is not enough for all the day to day, the weekly, and the monthly bills. I have to do what I have to, now there are decreased activities. Of course, you know, so I haven’t been working. I only received my Social Security benefits every month which is very little and I know that’s our own money and we worked hard for that and I hope that they will increase or I hope there is some relief. 

It’s really not enough with all the monthly bills. And my stimulus hasn’t come yet, and I have to actually re-apply for unemployment because the first and second time I attempted to apply, I guess I was denied. I’m wondering why and it’s so challenging to contact the Department of Unemployment, you will either wait for very long or the music will just keep on until you know, until your phone battery has exhausted.”

I was able to buy a house in 2007 to 2010 but because of the rising costs at the time, I lost that house and of course, all those savings that I had were gone. I am just helping my sister with the mortgage. That’s why I’m staying with my sister right now. There should be a housing program for us retirees, those who don’t have any house. There has to be a very affordable housing program for those who retire with no housing. I am still hoping for that. I have been a renter since I lost my house in 2011.

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