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

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

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

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