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Out-of-work Florida man looking for more than stimulus check

"I’d rather work for it"
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Posted at 3:10 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 17:10:01-05

PAISLEY, FLA. — Congress continues to make progress on passing one of President Joe Biden's biggest priorities: a stimulus bill worth an estimated $1.9 trillion.

The proposal includes $1,400 stimulus checks, an expanded child tax credit, $400 per week unemployment supplements and billions for coronavirus testing, vaccine distribution and reopening schools.

HOW WILL IT HELP JEMEL?

Meet Jemel Fleming of Paisley, Florida, which is located just outside of Orlando. Fleming didn't always live there.

Prior to the pandemic, he lived in West Palm Beach and had a solid $17 per hour job and was comfortable. Shortly after the pandemic hit, his company laid him off.

"Ultimately moving out here was the only smart option," Fleming said.

"Out here" is a trailer on the property owned by his girlfriend's parents. The water comes from a well, outdoor showers are encouraged and there are chickens and alligators.

"Just recently they started laying eggs," Fleming said.

"West Palm wasn’t set up for the pandemic with the high rent and high electric," Fleming said.

Since his first job loss, Fleming has worked a few jobs but also experienced a few more layoffs.

"Finding something long lasting a year after the pandemic is hard to do," Fleming said.

"Personally, I’m about 2-3 months behind on my personal payments," Fleming added.

STIMULUS BILL AND JEMEL

Most importantly, the proposed stimulus bill in Congress will give Fleming access to $400 weekly bonus unemployment benefits. It will also provide that $1,400 stimulus check, which will be spent quickly.

"I’m going to put it to bills honestly," Fleming said.

But Fleming isn't exactly elated with what is happening in Washington with this stimulus package. Fleming says the expanded child tax credit won't help him because he doesn't have kids.

Minimum wage won't be going up. Rental assistance he says is helpful, but his girlfriend's parents aren't asking for rent.

"Honestly, I don’t see anything that is going to help me. That’s just me being honest. $1,400 is going to be nice for the first two weeks, but I’d rather work for it," Fleming said.

"I’d much rather have them give us some sort of incentive to go back to work and fund us that way than just paying us more to stay at home," Fleming added.

That request is challenging as health officials still urge caution and caution hurts the economy. In the meantime, Fleming says he’ll enjoy the Florida view, wait for that stimulus check while hoping a job comes knocking soon.

"I’ve had to open three or four different cards," Fleming said.