Continued unemployment delays largely go unaddressed by Governor

Posted at 6:43 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 22:02:41-04

PHOENIX — Tony Greer, formerly of Apache Junction, pays close attention to Governor Doug Ducey's weekly briefings to see if he'll hear anything about what he needs most these days: unemployment benefits.

In March, he lost his two jobs as a home inspector and rideshare driver and was then evicted from his rental home. Greer stayed with a friend while waiting on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), the new system created to pay benefits to contractors, freelance, and other workers who do qualify for traditional unemployment insurance.

"When I first filed, got started, everything worked fine," he said. "And middle of June, for no reason at all. It just stopped."

Greer says those weeks without money were critical. Out of funds, he left Arizona to go live with family in Texarkana, Texas. He doesn't think Governor Ducey understands what people are having to do to survive.

"I don't think he has a clue what it's really like. You, me, the normal person, you know, me, you and all the other people that work – day in and day out – are trying to survive. You know, we're struggling. He doesn't have to worry about that," Greer said.

The ongoing issues with DES unemployment insurance payments are still largely left out of the Governor's press briefings. And, even when discussed, Carrie Tucker of Mesa says it doesn't mean much.

"He seems very nonchalant about it. Like, it's not a big deal, but it's a huge deal," she said.

Tucker has received no payment from DES. Her family of six is relying on her husband's $750 weekly benefit to cover the bills that they can, but the others are just piling up.

"We have, like, probably an $800 utility bill due to SRP. We have a $700 bill due to City of Mesa," she said.

Tucker is waiting for regular unemployment. Greer is waiting for PUA. Both say no one at DES seems to have any idea what is going on with their claims.

"I've been told a couple times I'm going to be paid by Monday," Tucker said.

Monday never comes.

"You're sitting there living off of their word because you're expecting them to know what's going on. And, you believe in what they're saying. And, then it doesn't happen," Greer said.

Despite a decrease in backlogs, delays in benefits continue to push Arizonans closer to a financial cliff while they wait.

"I'd like them to know just how tough it is out here without an income. And, I would like some answers as to why it's taking so long to get these issues resolved," Greer said.

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