NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach CountyWest Palm Beach


Spike in unemployment creates fears of permanent job losses, more homeless in Palm Beach County

Lord's Place sees increase in those needing help
Posted at 4:27 PM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 18:40:42-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — New figures released Thursday by the federal government show 1.9 million people filed for unemployment last week for the first time, which is down slightly from the previous week.

Still, many Palm Beach County residents are suffering after the sharp downturn in the economy this year, and some now have no place to live.

RELATED: Jobless claims mount in Florida as state continues reopening

For Michael Alexis, his car is his home. He hasn’t worked in three months and hasn’t received any unemployment benefits despite filling out an application.

“[My car] is my shelter. Yes, that’s all I have,” said Alexis. “It bothers me the government didn’t include the lower bottom income people.”

Alexis said his restaurant job stopped when the shutdown started. Despite the reopening, he said there is no work.

Michael Alexis
Michael Alexis of Palm Beach County has been living in his car after losing his job earlier this year.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus | The Rebound South Florida | We're Open South Florida

As unemployment spikes around the country, those who work with helping the homeless say the times are getting tougher.

"In the month of March is when we started to see the sharp increase,” said Mona Duffus, the chief program officer with the Lord’s Place of West Palm Beach.

The nonprofit organization provides services to help the homeless and those struggling to make ends meet.

Duffus said she is not encouraged by the trend she is seeing.

"Especially in Palm Beach County with us being so hospitality centered. I’m really concerned about a permanent restriction of jobs in our area, where there’s going to be a permanent loss of positions of people who need retraining and new skills," said Duffus.

She said the Lord's Place offers employment services along with other things such as rent and utility help. Much of that help comes from federal pandemic money.

A study conducted by Columbia University last month predicts the unemployment crisis will likely increase homelessness nationwide by 40 percent by the end of this year.