(Reuters) – When the temperature dipped near freezing in Columbus, Ohio in mid-October, the children had no heat. The gas had been shut off in their apartment for nonpayment. DaMir Coleman, 8, and his brother, KyMir, 4, warmed themselves in front of the electric oven.
The power, too, was set to be disconnected. Soon there might be no oven, no lights and no internet for online schooling. The boys’ mother, Shanell McGee, already had her cell phone switched off and feared she could soon face eviction from their $840-a-month apartment. The rundown unit consumes nearly half her wages from her job as a medical assistant at a clinic, where she works full-time but gets no health benefits.
Just 14 miles northwest of McGee’s neighborhood, Kiki Kullman is having one of the best years of her life.
The real-estate business she runs with her family just sold the highest-priced house in its history: a 13,000-square-foot estate, listed for $4.5 million, that came with an elevator and a classic-car showroom. And in late October, Kullman closed on a home of her own — a $645,000 three-story Colonial, painted a stately white with a front door flanked by columns, a pleasant place for her two-year-old twin boys to grow up.
Columbus exemplifies the economic split animating America’s coronavirus crisis.