Week 5: Jobless woman barely hangs on without unemployment benefits
Christy Zemcik spoke to us a few weeks ago about her struggle to stay afloat after the extended unemployment benefits she depended on her were held up by GOP members of the state legislature on April 16.
When we first talked with her, Zemcik, a 41-year-old former teacher and assistant in a doctor’s office, had gotten served with an eviction notice and was waiting for her power to be shut off.
Now, 37 days into the impasse, nearly all of Zemcik’s furniture is being auctioned off and she’s waiting for a sheriff’s deputy to come to lock her out of her Charlotte apartment anyday.
“There are times when I feel like I can barely pick myself off the floor,” she said.
For those that are counting, it’s been 37 days since thousands of North Carolinians were cut off from their employment benefits when the GOP-controlled legislature hinged the benefits to a proposal to make Gov. Bev Perdue agree to a budget with drastic cuts. Perdue, a Democrat, vetoed the measure, and Republicans haven’t moved to restore the federally-funded benefits since.
The actual number of affected people has risen from the initial estimate of 37,000 affected persons to somewhere between 42,000 and 45,000 people, according to the N.C. Employment Security Commission. It’s expected to grow by up to 2,100 people each week.
Zemcik doesn’t know where she’ll be living after she gets evicted in coming days, and hopes a church friend can take her in. Living with her nearby family isn’t an option.
This morning, Zemcik went to Crisis Ministry Assistance in Charlotte in hopes that they could help tide her over until the extended benefits are reinstated by the state legislature. Her parents filled up her gas tank so she could drive there to ask for help.
The assistance center said they couldn’t help since she has no income coming in and they’ve exhausted their homelessness prevention funds, Zemcik said.
“It’s so unbelievable that I can’t even put it into words anymore,” Zemcik said. “You go to get help and then you don’t even qualify for help.”
Zemcik said she’s out of options and hope legislators move quickly to help her and thousands of others.
“I don’t know what else I can do,” she said. “At least I know I’ve done everything in my power, applied to every job I can.”