TEMPE, Ariz. — The extra $600 Pandemic Unemployment Payment has expired, which means that weekly unemployment payments for thousands of Arizonans will go from about $840 a week to $240.
Many people are finding themselves looking for shelter, food and other services in high demand right now.
“These are our family members, these are our friends, who are struggling with losing jobs and apartments and not having enough food,” TJ Reed from the Crisis Response Network in Tempe said.
Reed has seen the extremes of the unemployment crisis caused by COVID-19. Some are facing homelessness, while others are wondering how they’re going to get their next meal.
Right now, the Tempe nonprofit has 18 staff members and two supervisors answering calls from people in need 24 hours a day.
“Especially with the eviction moratorium being pushed back to the end of October, there were a lot of calls until that was extended,” Reed said. “Since we got funding to start the COVID hotline in March, we’ve received over 40,000 calls.”
For those who were already struggling before the pandemic, things are worse.
“COVID doesn’t play nice with people in poverty or people who are struggling,” Reed said. “Some of us have homes to isolate to and others don’t.”
That’s where Reed and his team come in. Arizonans in need can call 211, visit the 211 website or contact the organization through their homepage. Considering all three, there are 10,000 services and resources available statewide.
“Based on how old you are, whether you have kids, what your income levels are,” said Reed. “We know that if we ask questions, we can actually get to the root cause of what is going on.”
Resources range anywhere from food, clothing and help to pay bills; to housing, disability, and veteran services.
The Crisis Response Network team is working to alleviate frustrations while providing help and hope.
“I don’t want them lingering in confusion and doubt of what is going to happen tomorrow or the next day,” Reed said.
Crisis Response Network is also operating a free and confidential crisis counseling program to help people with stressors related to COVID-19.