Jobless father of 4: Awaiting lifeline from Congress
By Jennifer Liberto @jenlibertoMarch 24, 2014: 7:14 AM ET
Renardo Gomez is living on borrowed everything.
He owes several family members payments of $50 to $100. The borrowed money, along with food stamps, has helped feed his four kids. His unpaid cable bill has mounted to $400, his electricity bill $600. His landlord has let him postpone rent. But next month, he owes double the rent: $700.
Five Republicans signed on to the $9 billion measure. However, its fate looks grim in the House.
"I'm worried. ... What if I get evicted? What's going to happen?" said Gomez, 51, who worked as a facilities specialist for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in New York City until his contract ended last April. Gomez has been looking for jobs since.
The long-term unemployed now total about 2.1 million, including those who have run out of state unemployment benefits these past few months with nothing to turn to, according to the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group.
The Senate deal would cost more than $9 billion. To avoid increasing federal deficits, the deal would be paid for by an accounting move that brings in higher corporate income taxes from companies that contribute less to pensions for a while.
Republicans like the deal because it will also prevent millionaires from qualifying for benefits. It also requires people who have been unemployed for nine months to undergo a review of their job search strategy.
"There are 2.1 million workers who should certainly be pleased, but they need to know they've got a long haul ahead of them," said Judith Conti, federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for the unemployed in Washington.
21 years as an exec and can't find work
If Congress passes the bill and President Obama signs it into law, it could still take weeks to get programs up and running again, Conti warned. The unemployed would still be stuck making ends meet without benefits for a while, she said.
Those who want to extend jobless benefits point to recent jobs reports that continue to show frustrated unemployed workers dropping out of the labor force.
Gomez said he continues sending his resumé out each week. After his job ended in New York, he moved his family to Fitchburg, Mass., to be closer to his girlfriend. It's made it tougher get to interviews, because he lost his car when he couldn't afford car payments. He takes the bus.
"I'd work at McDonalds. I really don't care. But nobody is hiring," he said. "I'm really trying."