Homeless Northern California mother, living with young son in her car, finally receives EDD benefits

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- 7 On Your Side brought you the heartbreaking story of a single mother who couldn't get her benefits from the EDD. It left her and her four-year-old boy living in a car. Now, hardship has turned to hope.

The story prompted an outpouring of support for this mom and her son. And, after our report, the EDD finally paid overdue benefits. But even more help came from hundreds of ABC7 viewers, moved by her story.

We told you about Shelby Hughes -- a single mom living a happy life with her four-year-old boy Callen, until the pandemic hit.

Shelby lost her two jobs -- then, the EDD cut off her benefits, with no explanation. "I started losing everything one by one," she told us.

RELATED: EDD mishandles claim, leaves East Bay mom and 4-year-old son homeless

She and her son began living in their car.

"I try to tell EDD too. I know I'm just another claim, just another number, but this is my life," Hughes said.

Across the state, an overwhelming response. Offers of help came pouring in.

Karen Wilmot-Causey in Vallejo offered a job. "I have work available and if it's a matter of daycare, I would not be above wanting to sit with her son," she said. "It brought back a lot of memories of when i was a single mom."

Doyle Borchers, a Napa resident, said: "We have guest quarters in our house. They could just come here and stay."

RELATED: East Bay mom and son left homeless after EDD cut off claim, receive outpouring of support

Bonnie Holland of Half Moon Bay also offered assistance. "My husband and I looked at our budget and we can afford to give her $1,000."

We told of the Hughes' frightening nights alone -- and how Callen longed to go to a swimming pool he'd 'seen,' but couldn't 'have.'

Patti O'Brien in Oakley offered a room in her home -- with a pool in the yard. "It was heartbreaking," O'Brien said. "She can come here with her son, and I have a pool -- and I saw he wanted to swim and I thought, oh my gosh."

And then there's Janelle Hendrickson in Redlands. "And I put myself in her situation and it was just one of those things that you do what you have to do to help another mom," she said.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Insiders say California EDD unemployment benefit scam was get-rich-quick scheme

She started a GoFundMe campaign on Hughes's behalf. "If it makes a difference, and she gets a home, that's great. You just want babies to be safe."

It raised $58,000.

"First of all I want to be able to say thank you to everybody," Hughes said after the outpouring of support. "And how much you're going to change my son's life. I could never thank you enough."

And then... the reason 7 On Your Side got involved in the first place.

Shelby Hughes finally got her unemployment benefits. At least, most of them.

"I don't know, it's all so surreal to me," Hughes said.

The EDD payments from last spring suddenly popped into her account.

"Words could never describe how much peace it's giving my heart right now," Hughes said.

7 On Your Side asked EDD what went wrong in her case and how it was resolved... but EDD cited privacy rules and did not respond to our request for an explanation.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.


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