Unemployed despairing after loss of benefits

June 21, 2010 6:36:52 PM PDT
The contentious battle in Congress over extending unemployment benefits is causing a tidal wave of anxiety for people across California who depend on those checks.

That is a lot of people. The latest jobless figure says it is 12.4 percent in California, 1.5 million people on unemployment, but 100,000 of them-are maxing out right now on their available benefits.

For many unemployed Californians, unemployment insurance checks have been their only source of income for as long as the last couple of years. Some say that if the checks stop coming for too long, they could end up homeless.

"I really don't know what to do at this particular moment," Victor Williams told ABC7.

Williams has been unemployed for the past two years. On Monday, at Oakland's One Stop Career Center, he called to get the status of his unemployment benefits extension.

"They told me they didn't know, that I had no more extensions, and they didn't know when Congress will approve it. They hadn't any clue," he said.

Republicans and some Democrats have stopped the funding of any new unemployment benefits extensions. Senate Republicans do not want to add to deficit spending and Democrats do not want to use unused stimulus funds. So, it has created a stalemate and people like Williams suffer the delay.

"Hey, we don't need a time break in terms of being able to get these benefits which we are entitled to as American citizens and we need them now," said.

"One guy came in and threw a real tirade of obscenities and profanity," said career center manager Allen Jackson.

Jackson says people have come in angry and desperate, wondering why they have not gotten their checks. 1.5 million Californians are presently receiving unemployment checks.

"About 200,000 people will be facing the fact that if Congress doesn't act any further, then they will be out of any additional unemployment insurance benefits or extended benefits," he says.

Christine Bennett is an unemployed single mother of 3-month-old Marcos and a four-year old-boy. She just heard she will not get an extension.

"They're stealing my money. That's what they're doing," she says. "It'll probably affect my housing if i can't... food. You know, the whole situation."

Williams' future looks just as bleak

"No money to pay rent. No money to pay for food. I'll have to apply for general assistance," he said.

The EDD says it is keeping a list of the people affected by this. As of now, there are about 100,000 names on the list. They say if the extensions do come through, they will actually filed the extensions for all the affected claimants and notify them right away.


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