8 On Your Side viewer offers rent-free apartment to Tampa Bay mom cut off from unemployment benefits

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It was a story that Jerry King couldn’t help but be moved by.

He was watching the news Wednesday night and saw Kristina McGarry, a single mom owed more than $12,000 in unemployment benefits the state won’t pay out. As a result, she’s living out of her car and her daughter is living with her ex.

“My wife looked at me and said ‘Gosh, if only we could do something,'” King said. “I started thinking and I’m like, you know, we actually can do something.”

That’s when King, who owns and manages a number of properties across Tampa, realized that one of his apartments sat empty. So he reached out to 8 On Your Side to see if McGarry wanted a place to stay while she worked to get back on her feet.

“I’m a father, I think Kristina is just a couple years older than my daughter,” he said. “I can’t imagine her having to go through something like that.”

We got the two together Thursday to check the apartment out. McGarry said she was taken back by the offer.

But she’s not looking for a handout. If she moves in, she said she’ll pay King what she can, even though she’s still waiting on those benefits.

“It’s really a disgrace that it takes a complete stranger to reach out when you have all these things in place to help and assist,” McGarry said, referring to the state’s unemployment system failures. “And they don’t help and assist.”

King hopes others see his story and are compelled to help someone else in need, because it doesn’t take an empty apartment to give with a full heart.

“It doesn’t have to be this big,” King said. “There’s a lot of little things people can do.”

“8 On Your Side will be part of my story, my comeback,” McGarry said.

8 On Your Side reached out to the DEO to try and get McGarry’s benefits released. No word so far on when or if that may happen.

LATEST ON FLORIDA'S UNEMPLOYMENT ISSUES:

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