Housemates come and go to jobs in fast food and a chocolate factory, sharing a single shower. Dirty dishes crowd the kitchen that no one cleans. Lacking a bed, Mr. Stokes, a freshman at Kutztown University, sleeps on the floor in the room of a friend who took him in when the dorms closed.
No stranger to hardship, Mr. Stokes, who spent part of high school living in a car, worries that the crowded conditions will expose him to coronavirus. But like many poor Americans, he says the sanctioned solution — six feet of physical space — is a luxury he cannot afford.
"It's just so many people in the house and there's nothing I can do about it — it's not my house," he said, in a voice rising in distress. "You can't be six feet apart when you have to rely on other people's space."
With the pandemic exposing and compounding inequality in matters large and small, access to private, controllable space has emerged as a new class divide — more valuable than ever to those who have it and potentially fatal to those who do not.