When Ramona* reached out to NLSLA, she had just left an abusive marriage and was working as a home health aid to support her two children. Then the virus arrived, and Ramona lost her only source of income. She applied for unemployment insurance in June, but she was informed that she had been disqualified because of an overpayment on a past claim that required her to serve false statement penalty weeks, making her ineligible to immediately start receiving unemployment benefits.
I thought, ‘How am I going to make it? The only thing keeping me afloat was my faith.”
Because Ramona was homeless—she and her children had been living in a hotel since she left her husband’s home—the case went to NLSLA’s Preventing and Ending Homelessness Project (PEHP). Advocate Jumana Bambot assessed Ramona’s case and concluded she should be eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and serve her “penalty weeks” in the future.
After several unsuccessful attempts at getting through to EDD, Bambot forwarded Ramona’s case to the California Department of Labor and advocated for her unemployment insurance claim to be changed to a pandemic unemployment assistance claim.
Thanks to Bambot’s tireless advocacy, Ramona was approved, and awarded retroactive payments resulting in a benefit award of $16,713. She is part of a rapid rehousing program that helps her stay in the hotel until she can secure more permanent housing.
“That was a big relief,” Ramona said of getting the funding. “The day the money posted that was the day my car completely went out. I was able to have money for another car, catch up on bills, and tuck a decent portion of it away so that, when I find my own place, I’m able to get my kids beds and other things that they need.”
Ramona is not alone; nearly 70,000 residents of greater Los Angeles are homeless and the need for legal aid assistance is critical today and for the future.
*client asked that we use her first name only to protect her identity.