The Pima County Dislocated Worker Hotline is serving to help in many other ways than just guidance with Arizona unemployment benefits.
The hotline — 520-724-5375 – was established March 26 to respond to the unprecedented surge in unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the hotline, set up through the Pima County One-Stop Career Center, is transitioning into a beefed-up, full-service role that aligns with the traditional assistance offered by the county’s Community Services Employment and Training department.
“It’s resources, it’s food, it’s rental assistance, it’s utility assistance,” said Michael Gates, manager of the Dislocated Worker Program. “And it’s jobs, and it’s training and support services.”
About 80 percent of the initial hotline calls were from those seeking information and help navigating the online application for unemployment benefits at the Arizona Department of Economic Security website.
The hotline had been averaging 150-plus calls per day, although the volume has dropped since the state started on Monday to distribute the additional $600 weekly unemployment benefit from the federal CARES Act, Gates said.
Now, the hotline is helping direct those who were recently laid-off to other resources, including from the Pima County Community Action Agency, which offers assistance with rent, utilities and other basic needs for low-income individuals and families.
“Since early April, and with people being served eviction notices, it has probably transitioned to 50 percent that are CAA calls, rental assistant calls,” Gates said. “There are some new laws in place that offer some protection from evictions.”
Gates said about another 10 percent of the calls are from people seeking job training.
The hotline has been staffed with Workforce Development Specialists and five trained staff from the Pima County Library. Voice messages are returned as soon as possible. Spanish speakers are available.
One constituent who needed help with the Arizona DES application process took the time to email Gates about his positive interactions with Rose Kowalski from the library staff.
“The customer service that I received by Rose was absolutely amazing. I could not have asked for a better associate to speak to about the issues that I was most concerned about,” he wrote.
“Astonishingly enough the questions that I had were very general questions that I myself was unable to decipher looking at the website and also, Rose provided me the assurance that the assistance that she was giving me was knowledgeable and correct. Rose also guided me through the website for the correct pathways on viewing my claim and issues and resolutions and mainly provided me with the tools to help myself in the future with any possible issues I might run into.
“I am very straight forward and on a tight schedule with very little time. Rose gave me all the information I needed with a direct answer but at the same time in a courteous and helpful attitude. It speaks volumes to your establishment to have someone like Rose working hard to help.”
Rose expressed that as library staff, “We are information geeks.”
“Meggin, Jon, Victoria, Heather and I all want to provide the most current and accurate information that we can,” she said.
Gates added: “In line with the One-Stop approach, a person in need of multiple services from multiple agencies and organizations in this time of crisis can make one phone call and speak to one person and get information about and referrals to a vast array of community resources and help addressing a variety of their needs.”
More Pima County resources
Community Action Agency: 520-724-2667
PimaWorks.com: Information and resources for individuals and business owners to help them navigate the economic disruption from COVID-19.