Help for people who lost unemployment benefits

By: Alana Greenfogel Email
By: Alana Greenfogel Email

Many Americans are worried if they’ll be able to feed their kids after losing their unemployment benefits.

"They just stopped my benefits," explains Sonya Jackson outside Work One in South Bend. "I survived off the unemployment. It wasn't a whole lot but it did pay the bills."

Sonya has three kids and while she knows her benefits are done, she comes to Work One every few days just hoping something may have changed.

"I feel that they should vote for that and give people their extensions because there's no way people can survive,” says Sonya. “There's no jobs out here."

Sonya joins 1.3 million laid-off workers in America who just found out their unemployment benefits are over. Experts predict 3.3 million people will be on that list by the end of the month.

Even though members of the House voted Thursday to pass the $3.4 billion plan to extend benefits until November, the Senate blocked the bill Wednesday night. Republicans say the bill would only add to the country’s deficit problems.

"It's not a matter of just continuously extending the benefits. That's not good at all for an economy, for society at all. I think it's to help us get past this unusual situation and this prospect of a double dip. I think that is creating a lot of fear right now," says Jack Elston, who has been out of work and is deep in his job search. "People talk about the prospect of a double dip recession. And I can see that. In fact I can feel that in a sense that I have a double dip job loss."

Elston’s daughter, Stephanie, joins her dad on the job hunt after she too lost her job. Stephanie’s unemployment benefits just came to a stop.

"The money. I need to make my car payments so I can go apply for the jobs. I moved back home. I lost my apartment. Just making cuts wherever I can," shares Stephanie Elston, who takes breaks from searching and networking to collect her unemployment check.

"Oh gosh. I've heard the worse comments there,” Stephanie explains. “People are so frustrated and you know the workers are trying their hardest but what do you do when the government's not going to give you the money? What do you do?"

Folks at the United Way say they know what you can do. They say many resources are available for people who aren’t getting unemployment benefits anymore. To learn more and get some advice, call 211 and you’ll learn.

"How to look at what you have, left. How to budget to budget what you have. How to work with utility companies. How to work with landlords. What to say to landlords in these situations. How to look for employment," explains David Sisk, United Way 211. "These are the hardest calls from folks who haven't called before and have been surviving on unemployment. They have been surviving on any type of savings. And when everybody's done with that, you're at the bottom and you're helpless."


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