SAN JOSE (KPIX) – The clock runs out on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – CARES at the stroke of midnight, Friday. Now, nearly 30 million out-of-work Americans – thousands in the Bay Area — are scrambling to figure out pay for basic expenses as expanded, federal $600-a-week unemployment benefits expire.
“I’m going to have to eat less. And hopefully, I won’t have to use the food bank,” says Glenn Telega, an unemployed stagehand in the convention and concert industry. Telega says with the current ban on large-scale gatherings and lingering concerns about the coronavirus, he’s not sure when he’ll be allowed to return to work.
Telega says he’s reliant on the federal unemployment benefits to stay afloat financially.
“I think a lot of people in Washington are out of touch with the average, common American and the struggles we have,” he says.
The expanded federal benefits expired on July 31. Congress is at an impasse over plans to either extend the benefits or offer some other form of assistance to struggling workers. Republican lawmakers say they fear the benefits have become a disincentive for Americans to rejoin the workforce during a worsening outbreak of the coronavirus.
But without the benefits, many families fear they are heading for a financial cliff unable to get a roof over their heads or food on the table.
“Businesses are closing down – no work. Everyone is out of work. We need some kind of assistance,” says Keith Floresca who brought his family of four to the food bank in Campbell for the very first time.
The Second Harvest Food Bank says demand for their services and desperation are both on the rise. The non-profit says it is serving double the number of people since the pandemic began.
“So many of the calls to our Food Connection Hotline are from people who say, ‘I’ve never had to ask for help before. I don’t really know what to do. I don’t know where to go.’ People are just feeling really desperate,” says Leslie Bacho, Second Harvest Food Bank CEO.