On the Edge of Eviction

Alyssa, a single mom of three elementary school-aged children who asked her last name be withheld, finally received a portion of the jobless benefits after being trapped in Wisconsin’s Unemployment Insurance system for  5 1/2 months.

She had been waiting since March — when Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide lockdown forced her to leave her armed security job and take care of her children.  Then Evers failed to provide the safety net of unemployment compensation promised to displaced workers.

“The kids are starting back to school, there was no food in the house,” she said. “I work out of my car, and I didn’t know how I was going to pay for gas, for daycare.”

“It was just stress after stress after stress. It’s a blow to your gut, every night looking at your kids and not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

In March, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Evers began shutting down schools and daycare centers closed. Single parents like Alysa faced difficult decisions. Find alternative child care, or stay at home. Unable to find reasonably priced providers to take all of her children, Montijo told her company that she had to temporarily leave her job. She said the employer was very understanding.

DWD’s Unemployment Insurance division, not so much.

“I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times I reached out to unemployment (officials). They didn’t have any explanations. They only read off what it says in the portal about my claims. That was very frustrating. I can read. I needed someone to help,” the claimant said.

The partial payment dropped into her bank account just in the nick of time, right after she received a five-day eviction notice informing her she had to move if she didn’t come up with her rent. She didn’t have it. She didn’t have much of anything.

The money was enough to pay her rent and get her kids some school supplies. The claimant says she’s frugal, so she can stretch a tight budget. She has to. She doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring.

Eventually, she found a daycare provider and went back to work, first part-time, and then, in late July, full-time. But the bills had piled up by then.

And she still had more waiting to do.

Failing Our Families