HIALEAH, Fla. – Cars lined up in the dark, early hours of Wednesday morning at Hialeah’s JFK Library with people waiting to pick up a paper copy unemployment application.
They say it’s worth it because the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity website just isn’t working and phone lines are tied up.
Police were directing traffic into the library parking lot and people were getting the forms one by one while remaining in their cars. Things ran a lot more smoothly than Tuesday, when a chaotic scene unfolded with people crowding, fighting and not observing social distancing guidelines.
“I don’t have a job. I need some benefits to cover my own necessities in the house,” said Miguela Caselleojo, who was waiting in line in her car Wednesday.
Long lines also formed at Babcock Park and Hispanic Branch Library on Wednesday.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez announced 26 libraries will be distributing unemployment forms throughout the county. The completed application can be returned at any of the libraries’ book drops. Officials said this will continue every day until people get the forms they need to apply for unemployment. (See the full list of libraries here.)
Broward County’s libraries say they are considering a similar service but haven’t begun it yet.
The application form can also be found on the state’s website, from which they can be printed and mailed to The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity at P.O. Box 5350 in Tallahassee, FL 32314-5350. Users with access to the Internet are able to download them in Spanish, Creole and English.
The state says it will take longer to process a paper application that’s mailed in, but it’s a way around the overloaded capacity of the website and call center.
The Florida DEO on Wednesday also announced a new mobile-friendly online application at www.FloridaJobs.org/RAApplication.
“The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is committed to ensuring Floridians are able to receive the benefits owed to them during this global pandemic,” said Ken Lawson, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “The team is working around the clock to make the process for applying for Reemployment Assistance as easy as possible for Floridians.”