DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — State representatives and Dayton community leaders held a roundtable discussion Wednesday about the current unemployment crisis throughout the region.
Leaders spoke one-on-one with residents who say receiving unemployment when they’re eligible is nearly impossible. Other problems mentioned include being misinformed by the unemployment office and the call center being overwhelmed.
“People were faced with the decision to protect their health versus pay for the food on the table and that’s where the state of Ohio I believe really made people choose,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.
Ohio’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to over 17% when the at the start of the pandemic and has now settled at 5%.
“People are really worried about their lives and basically wondering if they have to sleep in their car and some are even hiding their cars so they don’t get reposed,” said State Senator Teresa Fedor (OH-11). “These are stories we would never imagine hearing today.”
A father of seven who worked for the automotive industry for 30 years was laid off due to the pandemic. He says for three consecutive months, he spent hours trying to reach the unemployment office and only spoke to someone twice.
“The system is broken, you are made to feel as if you did something wrong and it should be set up to help someone,” said Shayne Shoched, a resident and participant. “Being without an income for two weeks, 30 days, 60 days or 90 days, it can drain you and ruin you financially to the point you don’t know to buy medicine or buy food.”
Community leaders believe Ohio’s system was far from being prepared for the repercussions of the pandemic.
“We have to find a way that everything works properly to meet the needs of the folks in this state during crucial times,” said Tom Ritchie, president of the Dayton-Miami Valley AFL-CIO. “You have to have a strategic plan that’s laid out to protect the folks in Ohio.”
Community leaders will be hosting future discussions. Future meetings are listed below:
- April 22 at 2 p.m.
- April 29 at 2 p.m.
- May 13 at 2 p.m.
- May 17 at 2 p.m.
The Foodbank — 937-461-0265 — Food box pickup Mondays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) — 888-534-1432 — Apply for legal aid services