Unemployed Georgians are struggling to make it through holidays without help

ATLANTA — With the Georgia Department of Labor reporting over 230,000 unemployed Georgians as we cross into the holiday season, we’re hearing from multiple metro area residents who are struggling just to make ends meet before the end of the year.

While legislation bounces around Washington D.C. with a proposal for a $908 billion stimulus package, that proposal does not include a second round of stimulus checks for individuals.

It would cover only small businesses and federal unemployment benefits along with several other priorities.

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Channel 2′s Matt Johnson spoke with Cobb County mother Kristen Perez-Waldhofer. Perez-Waldhofer says her unemployment benefits have run out without explanation. She also says it’s hard trying to explain to her kids Christmas may look a little different this year.

“I haven’t gotten paid since September,” Perez-Waldhofer said. Her daughter told her, “Mommy, I’ll give you my piggy bank. You can go buy our Christmas presents, you know, and I went to the bathroom and cried for like, two hours. But you know, they don’t they don’t know,” she added.

GDOL says federal money through the Cares Act will dry up the day after Christmas and it is up to Congress to either extend it or pass a new program.

“There’s so many of us that are suffering. We basically had to be begging for something that we shouldn’t have to beg for,” Perez-Waldhofer said.

Johnson also spoke with Sharon Corpening. Corpening is one of more than 340,000 state residents relying on the pandemic assistance.

“They’ve got to do it. They’ve got to do it now. There is no time. I shudder to think what’s going to happen to a lot of people out here in the cold,” said Corpening.

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Johnson spoke to Ga. State Rep. Kim Schofield who is part of the state’s “Rapid Response” team at the capitol. The team is made up of fellow Democrats.

Schofield says they are trying to get the GDOL to hire more employees and reduce the backlog of benefit payouts.

“We have to revamp this whole system. It doesn’t work. Make sure you have a call center open so that calls be answered and people have someone to talk to,” Rep. Schofield said.

The Dept. of Labor told Johnson they are processing most claims at pre-pandemic levels but the backlogs are due to reviews of eligibility.

“When you try to call the Department of Labor, you just get nothing? No, it’s a busy signal,” said Perez-Waldhofer.

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Perez-Waldhofer says she’s going to keep calling. All she can do is hope the worst days are behind her.

“I have faith. It’ll, it’ll be okay. It can’t it can’t get any worse,” Perez-Waldhofer said.