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Concerns grow as Tallahassee's unemployed wait for assistance

Posted at 6:10 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 18:20:31-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — One of the biggest impacts from the coronavirus pandemic is people who are no longer able to financially provide for their families.

What's making this time even more difficult is the help they should be getting is not happening soon enough.

Florida implemented a new website to help handle unemployment claims, Floridajobs.org and started allowing paper applications, saying the whole process should only take three weeks.

Instead, those who have been able to complete the process say they've waited double that time, with no end in site.

Skyler Hanna worked at a Tallahassee dentist office before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now she's out of a job, and getting impatient. Hanna says she applied for unemployment nearly five weeks ago.

"I hate to shame them, but it's just sad that's our only only help and we can't get a hold of anybody," siad Hanna. "And I mean, I think I speak for pretty much everybody, that there's no answers. You get online to email, you call, three hours sometimes. It's ridiculous. It's like, I'm unemployed, I have nothing to do, but I'd rather not be unemployed, so I have nothing to do. But I'd rather not be on hold with no answers."

Hanna says, luckily, her partner is an essential worker so they're living off his income right now.

Ashley Clark was a waitress at BJ's Brewhouse. Her husband also lost his job, and they have a child to support.

"We had some savings, but those savings are going to run out," said Clark.

"I wish we would get some answers," Clark said. "Apparently the new website they put out has also crashed. I know Florida wasn't ready for this, but we need answers. We need to, maybe, hire more people."

The Department of Economic Opportunity says they have hired more people, about 500.

Those came from the Department of Revenue and will now be helping process claims faster.

Tiffany Vause with the DEO is asking people to standby.

"The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity understands people are frustrated," Vause said. "We are working around the clock, seven days a week to make sure we are processing these claims as quickly as we possibly can."

"The bills keep coming," said Hanna. "Nothing stops. Life goes on, but you just don't have a job."

ABC 27 asked the DEO how many people have filed for unemployment since the pandemic started, but we haven't received a response yet.

In the country, that number is now at 6.6 million.