BROWARD (CBSMiami) – The Department of Economic Opportunity has launched a mobile-friendly site for unemployment help to ease the burden on people trying to pick up physical applications at locations across South Florida.
Olga Munoz ran into a Broward Fed Ex Office store on Wednesday afternoon to send out her unemployment application.
“I need money right now,” she said, before dashing into the store.
Munoz is a self-employed esthetician and has been out of work since the coronavirus shutdown began.
She said she’s been trying to file for unemployment benefits with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity for two weeks but couldn’t get through to the state agency on the computer or over the phone.
“It’s not easy, it’s not easy,” she said. “It’s terrible.”
The state of Florida had lots of trouble with its unemployment system, with people complaining of being on hold for hours or unable to submit their application online.
Late Wednesday, the state unveiled a new online app that should work on your mobile phone and allow people to file for unemployment benefits more easily. You can find it here: FloridaJobs.org/RAApplication
Unemployment applications are available online. They’re also available at FedEx stores in Florida, where you can ship them for free. The applications are also available to pick up and drop off at 26 libraries in Miami-Dade.
In addition to that, the department has also provided downloadable PDFs of the applications:
The printable applications can then be mailed to:
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
P.O. Box 5350
Tallahassee, FL 32314-5350
Munoz said her situation is desperate, as it is for many who lost jobs when their businesses closed due to COVID-19.
“I have to pay everything,” she said. “My car. Everything. My rent. My credit cards.”
Another example of the desperation — the situation in Hialeah on Tuesday as people threw out social distancing niceties to scramble for unemployment applications. Police tried to remind people to keep their distance but it was of little use.
And the concern extends to housing. At Coast to Coast Legal Aid in Broward, they’re swamped with calls. They have multiple employees who handle housing issues for low income residents and vulnerable populations, and Alisha Hurwood, Chief Operations Officer, said people are worried.
“Everyone that’s calling in is desperate and scared,” she said.
Hurwood said with businesses shuttered and no end in sight from the COVID-19 pandemic, people are fearful of becoming homeless as their money dries up. She said rent is still due but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis put a moratorium in place on evictions and foreclosures in the state until mid-May.
“Rent is still due,” she said. “So, if they can’t pay it right now they need to work on what money they have so they save some because once the moratorium is up, the landlord would be able to file an eviction.”
Hurwood said Legal Aid has not filed any legal action against landlords as of yet but she said some people are calling in saying their landlords have threatened to lock them out of their homes. Hurwood said even though attorneys for Legal Aid are working remotely, they’re still available to answer questions. Contact browardlegalaid.org for more information.
The situation is causing uncertainty and stress for many, like Munoz.
“Now, I start feeling the stress,” she said. “I’m feeling the stress a lot. You stay in your house and you can’t do anything. No, it’s not good.”