Many unemployed Arizonans are wondering how they'll survive if federal assistance ends soon. The state's Department of Economic Security (DES) has said the federal Lost Wages Assistance Program could end after another week.
That loss would take away $300 a week and leave unemployed Arizonans collecting one of the lowest payments of any state, at approximately $200 a week.
Andrea Bart is "petrified," she says.
"We have $5.17 to our name," she says, as bill collectors are threatening her family and homelessness is in sight.
Bart says she hasn't been able to collect unemployment pay since mid-July. She says her cleaning business dried up when COVID hit. "You feel like a failure because your family relied on you. I've let them down. I've let my son down," Bart says.
Her new full-time job has not paid well. It's contacting DES daily trying to find out what is wrong, but only being told her account is "in progress." Bart says no one will tell her what the means, how it can be solved or how long it could go on.
She believes she's owed around $5,000 in back unemployment pay and wonders if she'll ever see that now that federal assistance may dry up.
Now, she's facing some very tough decisions.
"I have these rescue dogs," she tells me. Bart took them in when no one else seemed to want them. And now, she says she can't afford to feed them.
"They will probably be put down because they are pit bulls," she says. "It breaks my heart. They are family. I don't even know what to tell my son."
Bart says she's tried to find shelters that will take the dogs. But she says because they are pit bulls, she hasn't been able to find a new home.
It's a tough reality. It's not what Bart says she's tried to teach her son all of his life.
"Go to work every day. Work really hard and things will work out for you. That's not what's happening," she says.
Bart says she's desperate to find work.
"I'm begging, pleading. I'll clean toilets. I'll pick up trash. I'll do anything, but there are many other people who will do anything too."
If you can help Bart with a job or find a home for her dogs, email firstname.lastname@example.org.