'Immensely frustrating': Tallahassee residents losing patience as they seek state unemployment help

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By: Katie Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 19, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Frustrations continue to mount regarding Florida's unemployment process despite Governor Ron DeSantis saying big steps had been made in a Tuesday press conference.

As of Tuesday, roughly two million claims had been received with half of that proving to be eligible for benefits, said Gov. DeSantis. 97% of eligible claims have been paid, accounting for more than $2.6 billion since March 15, he added.

However, tens of thousands of claims remain in limbo, leaving many people in dire straights.

Take Kelly Ash for example. She is late on her rent and her bills are piling up.

"Thankfully, the City of Tallahassee is working with us," Ash told WCTV's Katie Kaplan. "I still have lights."

The Tallahassee resident said she has been waiting for her unemployment benefits since she applied on March 15. Her status on the DEO website reads "eligible," but she has not received any money.
She said she does not know what the hold-up is.

"I just keep calling. All day. All day," she explained.

It is the same routine, but a different story for Charles Rodd, a resident in Tallahassee's Veterans Village.

"Immensely frustrating," he said. "It was immediately deemed 'ineligible' and then it said I was back at work."

Rodd said he has been laid off from two jobs, one as a chef at the Kearney Center and another with a catering service, since mid-March.

"I haven't returned to work," Rodd explained. "I haven't had a shift in eight weeks."

Rodd claims there is no option for him on the DEO website to dispute the claim since it is not an issue that stems from an employer. Luckily, he has been able to live off of savings and a stimulus check.

Unfortunately, for Ash, her stimulus payment has quickly dried up. She said the money went to rent for the first two months of the pandemic and whatever was leftover went to bills.

The bottom line is that many people still need help.

On Tuesday, Gov. DeSantis said he had added roughly 6,000 trained individuals to answer calls regarding the DEO website and unemployment.

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