MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Demetria Brown, like many other Mid-Southerners, is an economic casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The last six weeks, I’ve been gradually unemployed,” she said. “No one saw it coming. It hit like a bomb like bam, and when it started happening, it was like okay, how long is it going to last?”
Before the pandemic hit, Brown could be called a triple threat. She was a successful real estate agent, owned Trimmers hair salon and was a supervisor at Vitalant blood services.
But when Americans were told to stay home, she felt the squeeze. Home buyers couldn’t get approved for loans, people stopped going to salons, and fewer were donating blood.
“People are afraid to open their homes for viewing and people walking through, and we’re on hold with the beauty salon, you’re constantly touching someone,” Brown said.
She applied for unemployment and for a Small Business Association loan to make ends meet.
“Thank God, I was able to put a little savings up, you know, so I wasn’t hit as bad,” Brown said. “Now I’m at the end of the crossroads without a job, period.”
“Many women in the Memphis area are heads of household, and if you don’t have dual income, you lose the only income that you have,” Lakesha Williams, a wealth advisor at Regions Bank, said. “It can have devastating effects.”
Williams said to reach out to your bank regarding small business loans or help with your mortgage and car loans.
“Tell them the situation and give those hardships, skip a payment is what it’s called without many questions asked and that gives you time to hold on to your savings,” Williams said.
For now, Brown remains hopeful she’ll return to work as she tries to survive the pandemic.
“I’m going to be out there doing what I have to do,” she said. “I can’t quit.”