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Meet a woman relying on federal unemployment help that’s set to expire

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- Millions of Americans remain unemployed because of the coronavirus, including thousands here in our area.

One woman tells us when the federal unemployment assistance stops Friday, she's not sure what her family will do.

"My husband was considered an essential worker but he got injured, so he was on short-term disability and it was like we've got to sink or we've got to swim," Kenya Clancy-Lewis says.

She's had her side hustle, Miss Kitty's Wax House and Spa, for several years.

But she's been relying on it full time ever since her husband got hurt and she was furloughed from her career at a local hotel when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

"We panicked, and then it was just motivation to just go harder, push harder, let's get this business going, let's get the brand out there. We had to. we had to. I had no choice," she says.

Kenya Clancy-Lewis says when the federal unemployment assistance stops Friday, she's not sure what her family will do.

She says her uneven income from her growing business pales in comparison to what she used to earn, and says her family of five absolutely relies on her unemployment check to get by.

Congress has yet to pass another version of the CARES Act to help the economy, including continuing to provide unemployment assistance to people like Kenya, and she's worried no agreement has been reached yet.

"Yes, there's people that are probably taking advantage of it, but there are people that need it. I've not been called back to work yet. I actually called and my GM is like, "Honey, I'm sorry, I don't even have anything to tell you because it's not even on the table right now to even bring anyone in," Clancy-Lewis says.

So for now, she continues to work with her clients.

But she knows even that could vanish in an instant if the coronavirus numbers spike and force the governor to shut down parts of the economy, including personal service providers like her.

"It's still definitely needed, and then if numbers go back up and things have to get shut back down, we may possibly be back to square one still trying to hold on and keep businesses running and things like that," she says.

The federal unemployment assistance through the CARES Act expires Friday.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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