The signing of the latest pandemic relief bill on December 27, 2020, brought important aid to many who were waiting on a new round of stimulus checks and renewed funding for unemployment programs. The bill also contains other benefits for individuals and families.
While aspects of the new pandemic relief package, like a direct check to individuals and renewed unemployment, are certainly important there are other programs included that directly benefit many Americans.
A ban on evictions that expires on December 31st, 2021 has been extended. The ban prohibits landlords from ejecting tenants for an inability to pay or contracting coronavirus until January 31st, 2021. Originally instituted by the CDC, this measure not only benefits individual health and wellness but it also protects public health by keeping people in their homes through the pandemic which could stem the tide of #coronavirus infections. Either way, tenants who may be facing eviction can still be protected from housing instability or homelessness for another month.
Another measure to keep renters safely in their homes is the Emergency Rental Assistance program. Renters needing assistance to meet their housing payments during this financially unstable time can also benefit from a new program which would supplement their payment with funds provided in this relief package. The program will be available to those who:
Program funds will be dispersed to state and local organizations through which qualified applicants can have their rent expenses covered for a limited period. Funds received through this program are non-taxable and do not have to be repaid in any way by recipients.
The Paycheck Protection Program, which closed its first round of funding in August, will begin accepting a second round of applications from small businesses in need of funding.
While these loans go to businesses, not workers, they are crucial in keeping some small businesses afloat as they struggle with reduced profits. This benefit for businesses also requires that a larger portion of funds received by a qualified business are allocated to worker paychecks, ensuring that the main priority of the loan is to ensure job security for workers.
Families and individuals who are having trouble putting food on the table will be relieved to know that SNAP (known informally as food stamps) has been allocated $100 million toward increasing benefits levels.
Unemployed workers claiming SNAP benefits will also be relieved to hear that claimed Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) funds will no longer be counted as income by SNAP, which could increase the amount of benefits they are eligible to receive. Certain college students may also now be eligible to receive SNAP benefits if they are eligible to work for for federal or work-study position and/or have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of zero.
Public schools and universities are getting a cash injection of $82 billion to help them run operations more safely for students, teachers and administrators. A large chunk of funding, $43 billion, has been specifically earmarked for schools and universities for repairs, improvements to heating and ventilation systems for better air quality and addressing any students who may have fallen behind in their studies due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This should ensure that all students can learn safely and effectively going forward.
Child care facilities across the nation are receiving a combined $10 billion dollars in funding so they can continue operations during the pandemic. For working parents with young children in need of child care, the continued operation of local child care facilities will be a crucial lifeline to ensure their children are properly looked after while they work.
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