LOS ANGELES – Back in mid-March when California issued the stay-at-home order, the bar Glendora resident Brittany Hunt was working at had only been open one week. The bar was forced to close so Hunt is now busy every day calling Unemployment hoping to get benefits.
What You Need To Know
- 5.1 million people in California filed for unemployment benefits
- Unemployment rate spiked to 15.5 percent in April
- Leisure & Hospitality industry has largest loss with 866,200 fewer jobs
- Couple two months behind on rent
“We are currently receiving more calls than we can answer and are unable to assist you at this time. Please try again later,” said the outgoing message after calling the California Employment Development Department.
“And this is what happens every time you call,” said Hunt. “It’s just constantly busy. You can’t get through. You can’t speak to a representative. We were lucky this time that it didn’t just immediately disconnect us or give us a busy signal.”
Hunt worked as a freelance make-up artist, but turned to bartending when she realized the work earned more money. Now, she is unable to find work in either industry despite looking every day. Desperate for help, she has been trying to get in touch with anybody at the EDD. Meanwhile, the bills are piling up.
“This is a hospital bill for $2187 back from when I broke my leg,” said Hunt. “They’re requesting that I pay them $765, which is just an obscene amount of money that I don’t have.”
The California Employment Development Department reports 5.1 million people have filed for unemployment benefits since March while the unemployment rate spiked to 15.5 percent in April. The Leisure & Hospitality industry posted the largest loss with 866,200 fewer jobs, but that doesn’t stop the hospital from trying to collect.
“I keep telling them I have 28 cents in my checking account and that they’re more than welcome to it if they like it, but that’s all that I have,” said Hunt.
Hunt’s boyfriend Brent Hillhouse works in construction as an electrician apprentice and also lost his job. His luck with the EDD isn’t any better.
“It’s frustrating that it’s just a constant circle of not getting any help,” said Hillhouse. “And the website is even worse. You can’t navigate that. There’s no answers on there. It’s just an endless maze of nonsense and dead ends.”
Both Hunt and Hillhouse are anxious to get back to work. They don’t want a hand-out, but they are already two months behind on rent so any money they do receive is gone before they can spend it.
“This is a dire situation for a lot of Californians and I just hope that they take some action and give us some unemployment development department oversight and really just take our pleas seriously,” said Hunt.
The EDD is their last hope, if only someone would pick the phone.