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San Diego County Chamber of Commerce leaders helping people navigate the EDD Unemployment system for assistance

Author: Monique Griego (Reporter)
Published: 5:29 PM PDT April 15, 2020
Updated: 5:29 PM PDT April 15, 2020

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — As the coronavirus/ COVID-19 pandemic continues to force thousands of San Diegans to apply for unemployment benefits, the system, for many is proving to be increasingly frustrating.

“The site is crashing, or they’re overwhelmed because they don’t know exactly how to apply. So, we’ve been sending out information through Facebook and email on our email blast,” said Iris Garcia, the president and CEO of the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Garcia understands these are strange times when people are being asked to look for work at a time when people are being laid off across the country.

“Even though we know there aren’t many job opportunities out there right now and we all know it’s due to the pandemic,” she said.It’s an issue affecting people across the board. Communities throughout the state and country are struggling to navigate the system to get assistance and make ends meet.

“Sometimes the assistance programs can be complicated,” said Ricardo Villa.  He is Vice-Chair of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and owns a payroll company.“It’s become more complex and there’s a lot of questions happening at the same time and trying to get them [people seeking assistance] pointed in the right direction. The employers are not sure what they’re supposed to be doing or if they’re supposed to be doing anything,” Villa said.He also said many employees aren’t aware of what they’re entitled to and how to expedite the process as quickly as possible.

Villa and Garcia said people need to be aware of what they qualify for and how to be ready for the process. It is information they’re trying to get out to the public through social media and email.

“If you can, get a letter from your employer regarding your unemployment status or your reduction of hours. You can also apply for reduction of hours for unemployment.

”Which is something Garcia said many people aren’t aware of.And despite ongoing issues with the unemployment website, Garcia says people need to try and continue the process as they apply.  “Still stay up on your applications every single week and put that you are actively looking for work,” she said.

While sometimes the system can be overwhelming both Garcia and Villa believe it’s important to fight for the benefits you’re entitled to.  “Don’t give up,” Garcia said.“Make sure you’re fighting for your family and make sure you’re fighting for what you’ve already paid into the system. Don’t allow a crushed website to discourage you.”You can access the California Employment Development Department here.