Tented Villages on Oregon Streets are Testament to Delays in Unemployment Payments

SALEM, Ore. — Losing their jobs and evicted from their homes, thousands of unemployed Oregonians are left fighting for survival while waiting for financial assistance from the Oregon Employment Department (OED).

In the meanwhile, an increasing number of tented villages appear on local streets as many of the unemployed have been forced into the situation because of delays in their claims for financial assistance.

The OED says that of its 30,000 weekly claims, 2% are “in an escalated status” that is triggered when a customer service representative verifies that a claimant is in dire financial circumstances.


Frances Online Computer System Fails to Meet Expectations

Another reason for the backlog is said to be the new computer software installed at the beginning of March. Frances Online is a computer system that cost $106 million but its promise of being more adaptable and user-friendly when responding to claimants seems to be falling on deaf ears.

Frances Online replaces an obsolete computer system that slowed down processing claims for many years. The situation reached a crisis point during the pandemic when unemployment in Oregon attained record highs. While unemployment totals flattened out in 2023, it had climbed by 4.1% by the end of January 2024, with more people losing their jobs as major employers such as UPS and Nike began laying off staff.


Example of How Red Tape and Naivete Can Delay Claims

Chendara Spencer is an example of how red tape and customer naivete can delay unemployment claims. A single-mother, Chendara was the sole breadwinner for a family of four until she lost her job. The OED started paying her unemployment claims in March, but if she wants the money due for January and February, she must appeal her eligibility status.

The OED says that in January, Spencer’s claim was placed in adjudication after it had been delayed when her former employer contested the claim. However, a judge ruled in her favor.

At the beginning of February. Chendara became eligible but was unable to complete the required in-person job training because of transportation problems. Her eligibility was then delayed and, according to the OED, she now needs to successfully appeal to become eligible for the January and February payments.

One of the most common reasons for unemployment payment delays is that claimants miss a week or more of filing for claims. “You have to file a weekly claim each week if youn want to keep getting benefits”, says the OED statement.





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  1. Stanley Willams says

    it is a sorry state of affairs that a system we paid into for years make you jump through hoops to get the help you need because you were terminated from your job for nò other reason then they wanted you out. if we were illegal aliens who crossed the border, we would be giving a place to live, food stamps, and a debt card with money on it as soon as we cross the boarder. when are we going to start taking care of Americans first. I rather work and earn my money then have to beg for something I paid into. when it harder for a citizen of the USA to get help from its own government then a illegal immigrants then I would say something is broken and needs change.

    1. Janey Matheson says

      You don’t actually pay into unemployment, your employer does. It’s a common misconception.

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