Before the pandemic, Carla Huanca and her family were making modest but meaningful improvements to their cramped apartment in the slums of Buenos Aires.
She was working as a hairstylist. Her partner was tending bar at a nightclub. Together, they were bringing home about 25,000 pesos ($270) a week — enough to add a second story to their home, creating extra space for their three boys. They were about to plaster the walls.
“Then, everything closed,” said Ms. Huanca, 33. “We were left with nothing.”
Amid the lockdown, she and her family needed emergency handouts from the Argentine government to keep food on the table. They resigned themselves to rough walls. They shelled out for wireless internet service to allow their children to manage remote learning.
“We have spent all of our savings,” Ms. Huanca said.
The global economic devastation that has accompanied Covid-19 has been especially stark in Argentina, a country that entered the pandemic deep in crisis.