Nonprofit And State Look To Help As $600 A Week Unemployment Benefit Ends
The $600 per week benefits boost that's been paid to unemployed Americans since late March ends Friday. In Washington, Congressional Republicans and Democrats said they are not close to a deal to extend a supplement to unemployment insurance.
The extra money provided through the CARES act has proved to be a lifeline for more than two million unemployed Californians.
Now, as it ends, organizations in San Diego that work to help the unemployed are doing what they can.
“At the Workforce Partnership, we’re here for all the laid off workers and all the employers who’ve had to go through this as well,” said Peter Callstrom, President & CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership. The nonprofit works to connect people looking for work with potential employers. They have a lot of resources at their website, workforce.org.
“We have this on demand video library with an array of trainings from companies like Microsoft… they’ve been able to offer a lot of skills and pathways for little to no cost,” Callstrom said.
KPBS News put out a request on social media this week to ask how the end of the $600 a week benefit will affect people, and received answers from across the country.
“The loss means I will have to use retirement funds to survive,' wrote one responder who only identified himself as "David."
"The extra $600 has kept my family and small business still open," wrote Nunzia Daniele of San Diego.
Taylor Holden of Oklahoma wrote, "The $600 was a life raft in this storm... We need help and we need it now."
Joe Kinney of North Carolina said of losing the $600 benefit, “it will kill us.”
For Californians, a lifeline might be coming together. State legislators are looking at taking over payment of the $600 a week benefit.
“That agreement hasn’t been made yet, but if it is, one idea thrown out is we could make up the difference in whatever the federal government decides on doing,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a Democrat who represents San Diego's 80th district.
But Gonzalez said to do that, the state would have to borrow $100-billion — a tough sell even in good economic times.
Still, she said lawmakers are well aware that the loss of the $600 benefit means economic catastrophe for lots of Californians.
“We’re gonna end up with a huge housing crisis, a mortgage crisis as well as a renter’s eviction crisis, we’re gonna end up with people basically starving to death. I mean, it’s not tenable.”
The legislature must have their budget complete by the end of August. For now, unemployed Californians look to Washington and Sacramento and wait, and worry.