Unemployment benefits could run out for estimated 73,000 Ohioans

2:49 PM, Apr 14, 2010   |    comments
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In the meantime, families are struggling, charitable agencies are concerned and the community could feel the burden.

"There was over a 10 percent - about 11 percent increase in the number of meals we served.  We served over 63,000 meals last year," says West Side Catholic Center Director Jerry Skoch.

As people lost jobs in Cleveland many found their way to West Side Catholic Center -- a basic needs agency making every donation stretch.

"Fortunately, people are still giving and meeting the need, but of course when it just keeps coming day after day, your concern is how long can you sustain that kind of demand?"

Skoch says unemployment doesn't just affect those out of a job, but an entire community.

"The more people that are unemployed, the less resources we have to give out because the number of people who can potentially financially support us decreases as well as the increase in the number of people who have the need."

As Congress debates whether or not to extend unemployment benefits more than 73,000 Ohioans collect their last few checks.  Because by May, they could be on their own.

"We're obviously very sympathetic and very understanding to what people are going through and our hands are tied waiting for Congress to do something.  We are very optimistic that this extension is going to get passed," says Brian Harter with Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

Harter says he's hopeful Congress will pass the short term extension and then look at extending benefits through December.  

Until then, families and individuals need to keep filing as if the checks will be mailed. And agencies like the West Side Catholic Center will also try to make ends meet, stretching every dollar for every family.

"They're going to face the decision between paying rent, buying groceries, caring for medical needs for their family, and so we fill in those gaps."

WKYC-TV

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