Representative Davis Listens to KRA Customers

Recently, Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA-San Diego) hosted a Roundtable Discussion—set up by the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP)—to hear first-hand from long-term jobless San Diegans impacted by the loss of Emergency Unemployment Insurance (EUI) benefits.  KRA Corporation, which operates the San Diego Metro Region America’s Job Centers of California (AJCC), under the SDWP, has explored this critical hot topic in a recent post

On December 28, 2013, long-term UI benefits expired for more than a million individuals. In the past, Congress has renewed benefits until the percentage of long-term unemployed Americans dropped to around 1% of all unemployed. Since the current rate is almost 3%, to not renew benefits would be unprecedented.

Local economic and workforce development experts attended the Roundtable, including Peter Callstrom, SDWP President and CEO; Mark Nanzer, Director of Adult Programs, SDWP; and Alita Hetland, KRA Career Agent.  Davis invited two of Hetland’s AJCC customers, Eugene Beronilla and Joy Dauda, to share their experiences of what their job search has been like, and how receiving EUI would benefit them.

Beronilla, who has been employed as an Evaluation Specialist at SDSU Research Foundation and as a Consultant at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, has been unemployed for almost 18 months.  He told Davis that he has exhausted his retirement and savings accounts, cannot meet his current financial obligations, and will soon lose his home unless a solution is found.  EUI benefits would allow him to make plans, hopefully find employment, and thereby allow him to keep his home.

Dauda told her story of how losing her 6-year job as a Flight Attendant led to losing her car and her home.  She described the challenges and stigma of trying to find work while homeless.  EUI benefits would take some of the pressure off and allow her to stay focused full time on her job search.

Davis is a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce; an outspoken advocate for extending UI; and a co-sponsor of HR 3824, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, which would extend benefits through March 2014.  She is quoted as stating, “The stories heard today remind us of our duty, as a country, to lend a hand to those in need.  Any one of us could someday be in their shoes. As our economy begins to speed up, now is not the time to let up on the gas. This unemployment insurance helps people pay for gas to get to interviews, get copies of resumes and pay for the phone calls to follow on job leads. Congress should vote immediately to extend these benefits.” 

Hetland commented, “Their stories were heartfelt and informative. Congresswoman Davis was grateful and expressed that, with their permission, she would take their stories to the floor of Congress to convey the difficult plight of the long-term unemployed.”  After the Roundtable, Davis held a press conference, which aired on the KPBS 10pm news.  View a short video and read more here.