Aleyda Rebelo hasn’t slept well since the pandemic began.
Many nights, she tosses and turns in bed, anxious about how she’ll pay the $1,200 monthly rent on the house she shares with her family in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood.
"I’m so worried because my family depends on me. If I don’t make money, it’s very difficult," said Rebelo, 35, in Spanish.
The mother of four became the main breadwinner in her household about five years ago, she said, after her husband was disabled at his last job.
Rebelo cleans homes in San Francisco and the Oakland hills but, since March, she has lost several clients and more than half of her earnings, she said.
Rebelo is one of hundreds of thousands of Bay Area renters who saw their incomes drop during the pandemic, as shelter-in-place and social distancing measures became the norm. The economic slowdown has compounded the stress on families for whom the regional housing market was already unaffordable — and the strain is felt especially in lower-income areas like Fruitvale.
At the same time, the health of people in the neighborhood has been battered by the coronavirus. A cluster of three ZIP codes there, including 94601 — where Rebelo lives — has the highest case rates of COVID-19 in Alameda County, according to its public health department.