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Unemployed Floridians hoping help comes sooner than later with PUA program ending Saturday

Posted at 4:39 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 18:15:00-05

TAMPA, Fla — It’s a no-go for now on the $2,000 stimulus checks. House Republicans blocked the bill Democrats filed this morning even after the President threatened to veto the COVID-19 relief package if the dollar amount wasn’t raised.

The indecision has left many people in limbo on issues like unemployment and eviction.

With profits slashed in half this year, Leah Ploumis, a fitness director and personal trainer who works with seniors, held classes over zoom. It’s a solution far from ideal.

“The hourly rate changed, hours decreased, personal training went down a lot because people are scared and worried and cautious,” she said.

It forced her to adapt. She’s been receiving SNAP benefits to help put food on the table and unemployment to help pay the bills.

The gig workers like myself, I’m only receiving $125 a week which you can’t do anything with 125, it’s a joke,” she said.

On Sunday, Congress agreed on a $900 billion relief package which would extend unemployment benefits set to expire this Saturday and the eviction moratorium which ends December 31.

But Tuesday, the President announced $600 isn’t enough when it comes to the stimulus checks and threatened to veto the bill if they weren’t at least $2,000.

“I know that the $2,000, I knew that the Republicans were not going to go for that,” Ploumis said.

And she’s right, the bill was blocked by House Republicans Monday. She says this back and forth between both parties has messed with people's livelihoods.

“They don’t get it, because they’re so out of touch with reality it’s like it’s a chess game for them,” she said. “Who has more power, who has money who has more control? It doesn’t affect them, they can’t relate to us.”

Ploumis has been receiving benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program also knowns as PUA. The new bill would have given an additional $300 bucks for 11 weeks. She says the President should sign the bill.

“He should just sign it, just get something going so there’s no having to reapply,” she said. “It’s gonna be a huge mess!”

We’ve asked the DEO how long it would take for this new program, if passed, to be implemented in the CONNECT system, we haven’t heard back. We will update you when we know more.