SAN FRANCISCO - A San Francisco school bus driver who was laid off due to the pandemic says she applied for unemployment benefits through the Employment Development Department back on July 3, but still hasn't received an unemployment check.
Instead, on Tuesday Michelle Panganiban says she was shocked to find nearly one hundred letters from the EDD sent to her address. All the letters were addressed to names she didn't recognize. She says the return addresses were from various EDD offices throughout the state and some even felt like they had EDD debit cards inside.
"I'm sure they have a machine that is printing and stuffing, but there's nothing in their system that says hey, 100 are going to one lady? That doesn't make any sense," said Panganiban, who added that she worries if the people listed on the letters are real and waiting for checks to come in the mail.
Panganiban and her husband worry about keeping their own child fed. She was a San Francisco school bus driver, and he had a dog-walking company. Both lost their jobs with the pandemic. Tuesday's delivery was particularly difficult to understand, because Panganiban so desperately needs her own unemployment check that she says has been delayed inexplicably since July.
"I applied for unemployment. Did not receive it," Panganiban said, "I called every single day for two hours a day calling."
California Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco says he feels for Panganiban and adds that he and other state lawmakers warned the EDD last week.
"This is happening all over the state. It is incredibly troubling," said Chiu, "I'd been alerted last week by a friend of mine here in Oakland who had a similar situation happen to them. I did reach out to EDD leadership about a week ago. I've not yet heard back."
In Southern California, State Senator Melissa Melendez who represents much of Riverside County said one of her constituents also got a mailbox full of EDD letters.
"This is what my constituent got in just 2 days," said Melendez, holding up a stack of mail in her hand, "So one day he goes out to the mailbox and he's got 49 pieces of mail. All from EDD."
In Stockton too, a teacher says she got eight in one day.
Assembly member Chiu says the EDD needs to investigate fraud and do better getting checks into the hands of those who really need them.
"Clearly EDD leadership has failed. There are so many things that EDD needs to do from improving its customer service to reforming its IT to changing the way it does business and how its responsive to the public," said Chiu, adding that the EDD should have sufficient resources to improve service, "We have given EDD all the budget they have asked for. And in fact, they have ramped up with 5000 additional staffers in recent months."
"I have rent to pay. I have bills to pay. I had excellent credit. But if I don't get my bills paid. That's going to ruin things for me and it makes me really sad," said Panganiban.
KTVU reached out to the EDD for comment but has not yet received a response.
If you receive similar letters, Chiu says you should contact the EDD fraud line or your state lawmaker.
Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana