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In-person unemployment help working; long lines worth the wait for many

Posted at 3:37 PM, Jun 18, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Some cheered as they walked out of the Health and Family Services building. Others made a bee-line for their car just happy to be done with what’s been a tedious process at best. In-person assistance for unemployment insurance has featured wait times of up to eight hours. Some had to come back for a second day, after being turned away the first time. But for many, a good thing came to those who waited.

“I am finally getting a check,” said a jubilant Julie Cline.

Cline lost her job due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March and filed for her unemployment benefits right away. But like so many here today, and across the state, she hadn’t seen a dime in three months.

The state’s unemployment office was inundated with calls, and claims since mid-March and could not handle the volume. It left many without this vital resource for months, and some had to rely on family, stimulus checks and tax refunds to scrape by.

“There were some days I was so frustrated. My anxiety level was so high, but now it’s way better,” said Robin Stice, who also learned on Thursday that her check would be arriving within a few days. That check will include benefits from those three months she went without any assistance.

Most said they didn’t mind braving the long lines because what else is there to do, they asked rhetorically. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and it was plain to see the desperation on so many of the faces in this crowd. This in-person process is lengthy but appears to be working. You could even see the best in people, as Pernell Spencer – unemployed since March – was handing out pizza as the lunch hour approached.

“I’ve got four kids, and I filed back in March. Haven’t heard anything, and haven’t gotten a check yet,” he said.

Spencer said he’s been doing odd jobs while dipping into savings to keep everyone afloat, so he’s hopeful of getting the news he came for today.