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Palm Coast Airbnb owner says lost revenue forced her into unemployment benefits fight

Retired physical therapist ‘worn down’ waiting for DEO reply

PALM COAST, Fla. – Jennifer Perry has seen her Palm Coast condominium evolve from a five-star Airbnb to a reservation casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Before COVID, I was 100% booked,” Perry told News 6. “I made most of my money between January and March and then the bottom dropped out.”

Perry said her rental revenue fell from $2,000 in March to zero in April.

[READ MORE: News 6, DEO help single mom unlock 12 weeks of unemployment benefits | News 6, DEO unlock unemployment account ‘suspended’ for 17 weeks]

“I’ve lowered my prices probably 20-30%,” Perry said. “I’m making ends meet by spending my retirement savings basically. That’s what I’m doing.”

She applied for small business unemployment assistance but because Airbnb did not provide a 1099 tax form, the Department of Economic Opportunity delayed her benefits and suspended her account.

Perry told News 6 she has been waiting seven months for some sort of financial relief.

“It’s been so disheartening,” Perry said. “I’ve paid taxes on my earnings, I’ve helped the Florida economy, you know, I’m left holding the bag on unemployment.”

Perry said she is close to retiring as a physical therapist and hoped to use the Airbnb as a financial buffer for her golden years.

She is one of dozens of state unemployment applicants critical of the Department of Economic Opportunity’s benefits delayed response. There have been reports that DEO employees complain of a backlog of thousands of benefits applications.

“I feel like I have been worn down," Perry told News 6. "It’s not even a matter of frustration, I’m worn the heck down.”

DEO Press Secretary Paige Landrum said Perry’s case is unique.

In statement to News 6 Landrum said, in part: “Each claim may have issues that need to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. This specific claim is currently under review by the Reemployment Assistance team.”

[RELATED: After 13 weeks on hold, Florida women able to access unemployment benefits | Single mom says DEO unemployment checks arrived with wrong last name]

According to Landrum, the Department has put together a guide and video that helps claimants understand what their status means in CONNECT.

“The department also reminds claimants to continue requesting benefits in order to receive payment," Landrum said.

If you have an unemployment issue, email News 6 investigator Mike Holfeld and his team at makeendsmeet@wkmg.com.


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