CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A WCNC Charlotte Defenders investigation is learning about a single mother who was caught in a perfect storm of pandemic problems.
You may know someone who has lost a job, waited for unemployment benefits or even been evicted. Others are facing hard times balancing work with their children’s virtual school.
However, Shiela Banner said she’s dealing with all of those problems at once. In addition, she said her stimulus check hasn’t come because she claims she was the victim of fraud.
Banner told WCNC Charlotte the problems this year came too fast and help came too slow. Now, the Defenders team is looking at what you can do if you hit rock bottom.
“It’s just down to the wire,” said Banner.
Banner said she lost her manufacturing job.
“They furloughed me on March 28th,” said Banner.
Then, the single mother said she lost her home.
“We got evicted on July 28th because I didn’t get any benefits for 7 weeks,” said Banner.
It took a while before state unemployment benefits began rolling in, and now she’s waiting on the federal government.
“I'm waiting for the stimulus check,” Banner told WCNC Charlotte.
Banner said she called the IRS to ask about the delay only to discover more unwanted surprises.
“Talking to them for about four hours,” said Banner. “They (the IRS) told me I was the victim of identity theft.”
Now, Banner said she has to wait for that issue to be resolved before receiving the stimulus money.
“I just wish they hadn’t told me I was getting it if I wasn’t going to because now I’m dependent on it,” said Banner.
Meanwhile, Banner said her unemployment benefits were reduced in August.
“I’m only getting $261 a week,” Banner said.
Banner said that money is to support her and her two kids who are now in virtual learning a few times a week. She said more time at home means less time she can be working.
“They’re seven and ten, so they obviously can’t stay alone, I can’t pay for child care,” said Banner.
“Any one of those things would be highly stressful,” said Bernadette Joy, founder of Crush Your Money Goals, which works to help people struggling with financial problems.
“The first thing before you can tackle any financial pieces of this is to find some emotional support,” said Joy.
Then Joy recommends focusing on the job search, which includes updating the resume.
“Set a goal for applying for at least ten jobs per day,” said Joy.
Joy also said take an hour a day to review outstanding debts; pay off what you can and don’t be afraid to ask creditors for leniency.
“If she has outstanding credit card bills, if she has outstanding utility bills, if she has any medical bills, simply take an hour a day to call individual companies and letting them know what the situation is,” said Joy.
Lastly, Joy said don’t rely on money that’s not guaranteed like unemployment or stimulus checks. However, that’s easier said than done for Banner who says she and her kids are now living at a friend’s house, while she looks for jobs with flexible employers.
“It’s been really frustrating,” said Banner. “I’ve already applied to a couple of places, but I haven’t heard any callbacks yet.”
Banner said the IRS told her to wait until November, and if she doesn’t hear anything about her stimulus check by then, to call them back.