JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Thousands of Floridians who rely on extended federal unemployment benefits could soon be on their own as the fiscal cliff looms closer.
Those who have been on unemployment for more than six months will stop getting their checks next week if Congress and President Obama don't reach an agreement.
Legislation that would provide those benefits next year expired December 29.
Morgan Diggs, a homeless veteran, sorted through piles of free clothes outside of St. Phillips Episcopal Church in downtown Jacksonville Saturday hoping to find some business clothes.
"I'm looking for some dress shoes and interview clothes like a suit or tie so I can be more presentable for interviews," Diggs said.
Diggs was laid off and for the past year has been surviving on the $400 check he's been receiving twice a month. His extended federal unemployment benefits, like those of more than 2 million Americans, will soon run out if an extension is not passed. He said he would only be paid through December 29.
"I have no more resources. I'm through. It's over," Diggs said. "There's going to be a whole lot of people hurting, paying rent or mortgages and supporting their families. After they cut it off they have nowhere to go."
Eugene Darius with Bold Endeavors Jacksonville Ministry helped organize the event Diggs attended Saturday. Nine years ago Darius was homeless. Now he is helping those who have fallen on hard times. More than 200 people in need turned out this weekend for Operation Restoration.
Darius said he has seen firsthand Jacksonville's homeless population grow, and with the looming fiscal cliff it could get worse.
"This (Operation Restoration) could change somebody's life. That's the way we could look at it. It's a way to restore. Operation Restoration. We come out to allow God to use us to restore somebody in believing in themselves. It's a new year coming and everybody is setting resolutions so we want to jump the New Year off," said Darius.
While the country waits to see if we will fall of the fiscal cliff, Darius offers this advice that helped him turn his life around.
"Planning, planning will change my life. Better planning, really taking a look at how I live and my spending habits. I've increased my education and am looking at how I can make myself better, more marketable and employable and crossing the lines from what I'm used and going after some different things. You really have to believe in yourself and really get to know yourself in tough financial times."
To learn more about Bold Endeavors or to donate to the non-profit you can send an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Coast News