Volunteers assisting Haitians to apply for unemployment benefits in Florida

Volunteers assisting Haitians to apply  for unemployment benefits in Florida
A Haitian Campaign for Unemployment Assistance

SOUTH FLORIDA – When the State of Florida declared a state of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19 in March 2020 and mandated the shutdown of all non-essential businesses, Haitian workers were on the front line of the economic crisis, and suffered the most damages due to loss of employment.

Indeed, Haitians workers account for a significant number of the Florida workforce in various industries including healthcare, retails, hospitality, food, and restaurants.

Beside the poor performance of the State unemployment agency’s online system that prevents Floridians to apply for unemployment benefits, many Haitians who earn minimum wages are facing greater challenges due to lack of access to technology, language barrier, lack of community assistance programs, and lack of outreach from the State to minority communities to assist the most vulnerable ones to get access and navigate the system.

“When the country shut down due to the spread of the coronavirus, as a taxi driver, I had to stay home with no source of income.   This situation was so stressful that it affected my health to a point my blood sugar level kept increasing.  I was finally able to claim for unemployment benefits at the end of March.  It was only in June that I received the approval from the State.  I don’t know how long I would be able to survive in this situation.” said Remy Marseille, president of United Drivers of Broward.

To raise awareness on the State’s unemployment crisis within the Haitian community, and to assist Haitians who are unable to claim their unemployment benefits, a group of dedicated members of the Haitian Community from diverse industries and backgrounds has launched the Haitian-American Campaign for Reemployment Assistance (HACRA).

The goals of this statewide volunteering initiative are to educate Haitians on the process to claim for unemployment benefits; And to recruit volunteers to assist Haitians who have yet been able to claim their unemployment benefits.

On Saturday, August 8th, 2020 at St Bartholomew Catholic Church (8005 Miramar Pkwy, Miramar) from 10am to 6pm, volunteers will help Haitians to file for unemployment benefits in Creole during the Unemployment Assistance Day.

Anyone interested to volunteer must register at THE LAR Management Group and attend an online training by August 7, 2020.

 

 

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