LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — California has paid out more than $16 billion in unemployment benefits, but some people are still waiting on their money.
Mike Hardy of San Pedro took matters into his own hands to finally receive his benefits, including emailing the Labor Secretary.
One morning, in a two-hour period, Hardy said he called the Employment Development Department nearly 400 times and has the screenshots to prove it.
"I bet you I made between 15 and 20 thousand phone calls the past month. I would call 600 to 700 times a day to no avail," he said.
Hardy worked for Goodwill before the safer-at-home order went into effect. In March, as soon as he was laid off, he applied for unemployment.
"It just kept saying pending and every other week, I would go in and certify for the weeks but it would still show up pending," Hardy said.
As days turned to weeks without any benefits, Hardy started to run out of money. He said he finally got someone from EDD to pick up and he explained how dire his situation was.
"You know I can't buy food, I can't buy my medication and I can't pay my bills and he said, 'Sir, that's not our problem. You need to learn to manage your money and you wouldn't be in this situation and he hung up on me,'" Hardy said.
Defeated, Hardy emailed the Governor, his local lawmakers, and Labor Secretary Julie Su.
To his surprise, Su emailed him back. She apologized and promised, "I will make sure EDD gets back to you on your claim," she said.
Two days later, a representative from EDD called Hardy.
"It was like angels in my ears, it was a sigh of relief," he said.
The same day, he got the call from EDD, Hardy went from pending to paid.
"I could finally tell my landlord when I am going to pay my rent," he said.
Hardy is grateful to Su but isn't quieting down. He wants EDD to hire more people, and have them be better trained.
"We need a better system, what we have now is failing," Hardy said. "It's not getting what needs to be done. People that need the help are not getting help."
Su's office released a statement saying that she and her team are working to find solutions and fix the problems at EDD.
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