Fla. unemployment website struggles continue

Unemployed auto mechanic has waited 13 weeks for check

By Scott Johnson - Reporter , Jason Mealey - Producer/assignment editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The headaches for Florida's unemployment system continue. The recent launch of the system's CONNECT website has been plagued with problems as state workers have been working around the clock to fix it.

But one Arlington man said the system is far from fixed. Chris Richardson said his hours as an auto mechanic were cut. With almost no income the bills are rolling in every day.

Richardson said he fears his family will be homeless unless his unemployment check gets processed.

"Things got slow, cut me down to two days. Now it's one day every two weeks, every pay period," said Richardson.

Richardson tried to sign up for unemployment, which has started to seem like an impossible task.

"They said I met every requirement in time I've put in and money I've put in to get a new claim, and they said I would get it fixed and I had to wait two weeks. Two weeks later, nothing happened," said Richardson. "Sent another email, I had to wait two weeks."

He's now up to 13 weeks waiting. Richardson said he's fought the system, but has gotten nowhere.

"After two weeks, you're basically screwed because you can't afford to pay your bills no more. We're behind on everything rent, facing getting evicted," said Richardson. "I take care of my elderly mom. She's behind on medication. Three kids -- can't afford to feed them. All because unemployment won't get my claim taken care of."

It's been an ongoing story statewide that the launch of the state's unemployment website had problems.

RELATED: CONNECT unemployment site improving, but not perfect

The Department of Economic Opportunity said they'll be calling Richardson soon to help. It also sent a statement to Channel 4 about the website.

"Significant progress has been made in the Connect system in recent weeks. The combination of increased staff, system workarounds, and improved functionality in Connect has allowed us to better serve Floridians," the department said in the statement.

Richardson is suspicious if he'll ever be better served.

"I've heard that eight times already. I talked to woman today. She said talked to supervisor and sent email off, but I've heard that same story, heard same thing," said Richardson.

Richardson said if he does get the unemployment check, it would cover his family's current overdue expenses.

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