A man lost his home, car, and everything waiting on a call from the Illinois Department of Employment Security - a call that never came. CBS 2's Tara Molina reports.
IRIKA SARGENT: Now to a man who lost his home, car, everything while waiting on a call from the Illinois Department of Employment Security-- a call that never came, even after the agency's acting director told CBS2 they were making improvements so this doesn't happen to people.
CBS2's Tara Molina is working for Chicago, taking this issue back to the state today. And Tara, the system is still failing.
TARA MOLINA: Irika, it's still failing people like Jeremiah Loveless, who says he waited weeks and weeks on a callback, his benefits hanging in the balance. And today, he says he's lost everything to that waiting game.
JEREMIAH LOVELESS: I've lost my home. I've lost my vehicle. I'm behind thousands of dollars in child support.
TARA MOLINA: Now staying with a friend out of state, Jeremiah Loveless met us virtually today to talk about the promised return call from IDES that never came.
JEREMIAH LOVELESS: He said, "I promise you, myself personally, will call you back tomorrow at 11:00 AM after it's all updated, and I'll get to your back pay, and we'll get this rolling again."
TARA MOLINA: He says that broken promise is what left him in this position.
JEREMIAH LOVELESS: I waited that entire day. 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, on and on throughout the afternoon. Never got a call back and haven't got one since.
TARA MOLINA: Out of options, out of savings, and still waiting-- when he says the whole reason for the call, the continued hold on his benefits, was simple.
JEREMIAH LOVELESS: All I wanted to do was update my information in the system.
TARA MOLINA: His address and banking information. He says the online system alerted him to call IDES to finalize those changes and his claim. He put his number in their callback system and waited a month on the call, where he was promised a callback. He's waited another three weeks since, with his number back in that system-- waiting.
KRISTIN RICHARDS: Quite frankly, it's unacceptable.
TARA MOLINA: That's what Kristin Richards, the acting director of IDES, told us about the reported issues with contracted call-takers in their call center when I first sat down with her virtually a few weeks ago. She told us they're working on monitoring calls now, to prevent issues. And we know from a public records request they're also keeping track of how many dropped calls are actually returned by a human.
KRISTIN RICHARDS: We're viewing everything now through the lens of, how do we increase that productivity?
TARA MOLINA: So what isn't working? Why is a person like Jeremiah, who was promised a returned call, who needed a returned call in order to get benefits, still waiting? I brought that question back to the state, asking who's holding call-takers accountable and why time-sensitive calls aren't being returned.
The spokesperson for IDES just got back to us this afternoon on this request. She says they're not aware of any issues happening with scheduled calls, calls not being returned, and that they'll look into this. Of course, we'll follow up with them on that.
For CBS2 Working for Chicago, I'm Tara Molina.