Santa Clara County Tries to Help Unemployed Residents

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New unemployment numbers show an even bigger than expected surge in those applying for jobless benefits and Bay Area residents are not the exception. 

The unemployment numbers were sure to go up, everywhere as more and more businesses shut down as part of the Coronavirus safety measures and that means government agencies have to keep spreading the safety net.

Former machine tool operator Arturo Valencia of San Jose, lost his job on March 16 when his company had to shut down due to COVID-19, but as he tried to navigate the unemployment process, he found out it’s difficult with traditional unemployment offices closed.

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“They just keep hanging up and say ‘all the procedures are on the Internet’ but I don’t have internet,” he said. “I don’t have a computer, so I tried to reach them through the phone but it was kind of like ‘Mission Impossible.’”

Santa Clara County is trying to help, especially with cities like San Jose, seeing unemployment figures higher than 15% right behind San Francisco at over 17%.

On Thursday, the county, in partnership with seven community organizations, launched COVID-19 Assistance Navigation hotline to guide people facing financial hardship, including helping them with applying for unemployment insurance.

“I’ve never seen a time when we’ve had 200,000 layoffs in such a short period of time,” said Sup. Dave Cortese. “The predictions are we’ll have 200,000 more people unemployed by May.”

Valencia is grateful for all the efforts at the county and state level but he asks them to please hurry.

“I don’t have no money for food and I need to pay for my car,” he said. “I didn’t pay my rent the last month and I don't know, it’s kind of hard for us.”

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