Up until now, millions of California workers found themselves on the outside. The self employed, including rideshare drivers didn’t qualify for the traditional help from state grants or unemployment.
But starting Tuesday, millions of self employed freelance and gig workers in California can apply for money from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.
James Carter, from San Jose, now has to rely on video conferences to teach kids karate. Coronavirus is hitting his business hard. He own the Camp Carter International Karate Association in San Jose and says paying $5,000 a month in studio rent with no students is draining his savings.
“Right now it’s devastating,” said Carter. “If it goes past June I won’t be able to afford this facility.”
This is why he applied online for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, aimed at helping gig workers, independent contractors, freelancers and self-employed like James who didn’t previously qualify for state aid.
“You will get $167 per week going back to the point in February if you prove that you were affected by COVID-19,” said Julie Su, California Labor Secretary.
Carter already applied for a small business loan.
“That didn’t come in,” he said.
So he’s hoping that by applying for PUA he will receive enough to push through hard times.
“Anything will help,” said Carter.
In Phase Two of the Assistance Successful, applicants can receive $600 a week depending on when the pandemic first put them out of work.