Chicagoans among millions worrying now that some unemployment benefits are ending

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CHICAGO — A lifeline for millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs in the pandemic is about expire. Many are now wondering how they will get by without the expanded $600-a-week benefit.

With congressional negotiators deadlocked over coronavirus relief, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin was on the offensive, pointing to the increasingly desperate situation face by unemployed Chicagoans.

Roushaunda Williams, like millions of other unemployed Americans, is frightened about the future with enhanced federal coronavirus unemployment relief of $600-a-week expiring Friday.

“I can’t pay my bills. Next month I don’t know how I’m going to pay my rent. I’m terribly frightened,” she said.

The laid-off Palmer House Hilton bartender said the money was a life-line. She said she would go back to work in a heartbeat but said jobs are hard to come by because of the pandemic.

Many Republican lawmakers in favor of decreasing the emergency aid to $200 a week.

The GOP and democratic party leaders divided on this urgent issue. Critics say it’s everyday people who are paying the price.

Durbin said it’ll be a catastrophe if Congress reduces aid — not to mention the fact many unemployed workers are losing their health insurance.

Jesus Morales is another Chicagoan who lost his job at a time when his wife needed multiple brain surgeries. He said without the health insurance and the extra $600 a week, he is in fear of losing his home.

Illinois unemployment crisis is staggering with 1.7 million unemployment claims filed back in March. About814,000 state residents according to Durbin claiming unemployment benefits since July 11.

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