Florida woman sleeping on porch, renting bedroom to help pay mortgage

20-week delay in state unemployment benefits finally over for single mother

Ann Shepard has been fighting to save her Fort Myers home by renting out her bedroom for the past nine months.

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Ann Shepard has been fighting to save her Fort Myers home by renting out her bedroom for the past nine months.

The unemployed businesswoman said her 18-year-old son is still living with her and she needed her stalled unemployment benefits to make ends meet.

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She’s been sleeping on a mattress on her back porch since April.

“It’s humiliating, it’s degrading,” Shepard said. “I sold my car and a friend gave me a vehicle to drive, come on, nobody deserves this.”

Shepard said she has been looking for full-time work but finding jobs in the current employment market have been scarce.

She had opened a cooking school but was unable to keep it open. She took a job with Publix but the company could not provide enough hours.

The confusion over her job status with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity was triggered by a temporary job that lasted less than a day.

“I know unemployment is not the answer,” a tearful Shepard said. ”$33 threw off any unemployment (benefits).”

Shepard said she had been fighting to get her Connect account with the DEO amended for the past 20 weeks.

She turned to News 6 as her last resort.

“I don’t know what they want me to do because no one will tell me anything,” she said.

News 6 contacted the DEO and explained Shepard’s plight.

Supervisors with the agency reviewed her account status and were able to deposit $1,500 in unemployment money into her account Tuesday.

Shepard was grateful for the assistance.

“I really appreciate it,” she said. “Thank you.”

On Tuesday, she was preparing resumes to start a new search for employment.

If you have an unemployment issue email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.