With so many businesses closed or operating with skeleton crews in the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, parents in more than two-thirds our homeless families with children now have experienced a job loss or severe cutback in hours.
These parents have faced the same frustrations as many other Floridians when trying to claim their unemployment benefits online, with most opting to download and mail in the paper application for benefits that the state eventually made available. As of now, none of them has received a payment. This, too, is consistent with what other Florida residents are encountering. According to an Associated Press analysis released Monday of U.S. Department of Labor data, nearly 7 of every 8 Floridians who filed unemployment claims during the three weeks from mid-March until early April were waiting to have them processed. That is the worst rate in the country, according to the AP.
So we don’t know when the unemployed parents living with their children in Family Renew Community’s apartments for homeless families will have income again. But thanks to our supporters, these families don’t have to worry about losing the roof over their heads.
Employment is a keystone of our program. Parents are required to be employed or employable when they move in to our housing, and we help those who need to get jobs or get better jobs. Further, they are required to save at least 50 percent of their earnings toward their move to permanent housing. Our case managers are working with resident parents who have been displaced from their jobs, encouraging them to seek alternate positions.
We anticipate this widespread setback in employment will mean families will be staying with us longer before overcoming homelessness. We are grateful to everyone who is making it possible for us to be here for them all the way.