Mom desperately seeking unemployment benefits stakes out on Tampa streets with sign calling for help, backpack full of resumes

Florida Unemployment

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area mom is on a mission to find her family some relief.

Angel Lopez is one of the thousands of out-of-work Floridians who still can’t claim unemployment benefits. Running out of money and options, she showed up with a giant sign outside the WFLA News Channel 8 newsroom on Tuesday looking for help.

When investigative reporter Victoria Price asked Lopez about her family’s financial situation and if they had enough to live on, Lopez said the metaphorical clock is ticking.

“Probably about a week,” she said. “And that’s it.”

The Palm Harbor mother of two says the pandemic forced her and her husband out of work in March.

Their youngest son Jackson has autism and requires expensive therapy.

But so far, the system is failing them. Without income or unemployment benefits, their bank account has run dry.

“It hurts not just because I don’t have anything coming in, but it hurts to see my son can’t get the help he needs,” Lopez said.

Wielding a sign that read “HELP. Disabled son. FL Gov notice me,” Lopez set off around Tampa with a backpack full of resumes.

She applied for unemployment in March but still hasn’t received anything. She says calls to the unemployment office get her nowhere.

“Either you get hung up on several times or if you do talk to someone, they just don’t really know what’s going on,” Lopez explained.

8 On Your Side made calls to Lopez’s state representative James Grant (R-Tampa) and state senator Ed Hooper (R-Clearwater) on her behalf. Both Grant and Hooper supported changes to the state’s unemployment system signed into law by former Gov. Rick Scott in 2011.

We also reached out to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office.

As of this writing, Grant’s office had returned our call and is now in the process of connecting with Lopez.

“I just need help,” Lopez said. “I want to help my son.”

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