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Over $11 Billion in Stimulus Money for California:

8 Things You Should Know

Posted March 27, 2020

Tanu Henry | California Black Media

The federal government has approved $2 trillion dollars as well to aid states in their efforts to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The money will help people, businesses and non-profits impacted; and to pay for government programs related to the pandemic.

 

Two weeks ago, after Gov. Newsom issued a state of emergency in California, the legislature wrote a $1 billion blank check to the state, giving it broad authority to spend the money “for any purpose” related to the Coronavirus crisis.

 

“By our back-of-the-envelope estimate, as we process more of the details of the stimulus bill, the state of California will be the beneficiary of over $10 billion just in the state block grant portion,” Gov. Newsom revealed in a press conference last week.

 

He said $5.5 billion of that federal money will go to the state itself and the rest will be pushed down to cities and counties.

 

California Black Media will be following the money, letting you know what programs at the federal, state, county and city level could benefit you.

 

For now, here are eight things Californians should know about programs that impact your life and money.

 

1. Most Singles Will Soon Receive a Payment of $1200; Married Couples, $2400

 

 Most individuals with a social security number in the United States will receive a one-time payment of $1200. To qualify, you would have to earn an adjusted gross income of $75,000 annually or less. For singles earning above $75,000, the payout will decrease on a scale up to $99,000.

 

Individuals who file taxes as head of household and earn less than $112,500 qualify for the $1,200 payment as well.

 

Married couples with no children who earn $150,000 or less will receive $2400. Above that, that payment will reduce on a sliding scale up to $198,000.

 

People with children under age 16 will receive an additional $500 per child. Families with two children who earn above $218,000 will not qualify for the payments.

 

2. All Californians Are Protected From Evictions

 

Two weeks ago, Gov. Newsom issued an executive order giving local governments the authority to halt evictions across the state, but his order, at the time, did not prohibit them.

 

The governor said,  “people shouldn’t lose or be forced out of their home because of the spread of COVID-19.”

 

Then, this week, the governor lifted the burden off distressed renters in California even more when he established a statewide moratorium on evictions.

 

Under the new rules, the tenant would be required to retain documentation and will also be responsible to “repay the full rent in a timely manner and could face eviction after the moratorium is lifted.”

 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has also placed an eviction moratorium on all Section 8 and other federally subsidized properties across the country.

 

3.  Most Californians Don’t Have to Worry About Mortgage Fees or Foreclosures

 

Gov. Newsom announced last week that the state has struck a deal with a number of major financial institutions, including Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, US Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and nearly 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and other loan firms. They have all agreed to provide temporary relief for homeowners in the state.

 

Bank of America was the only major financial institution that did not commit to the program for 90 days, opting to help homeowners for only 30 days. After pressure from Gov. Newsom and their customers, the bank has now signed on for the full 90-day period.

 

Homeowners may still have to apply to activate the benefits.

 

The mortgage relief programs include: a 90-day grace period on all mortgage payments; a new streamlined process to request forbearances; no new foreclosures for 60 days; no fees and charges for 90 days (including late payment fees); no credit score reporting for 90 days; and no credit score penalties for participating in the programs.

 

The federal government has also put a moratorium on foreclosures on all federally-backed housing loans.

 

4. Children Can Get Free Lunches, WiFi Hotspots and Discounted Internet

 

California public schools will remain fully funded.

 

That means kids can continue to get free lunches at school. Contact your local school district to get more details about the program.

 

The state has also provided guidance on distance learning for parents.

 

And utility companies — including the AT&T, Comcast and Spectrum Mobile —  have set up WiFi hotspots for students to use and they all offer discounted monthly rates to low-income families for around $10 a month.

 

5. Laid-Off Californians Will Receive An Additional $600 a Week From the Feds

 

If you lose your job in California due to the COVID-19 crisis, you are entitled to unemployment insurance, which, depending on your last salary, ranges from $40 to $450 for 26 weeks.

 

During this crisis, the federal government has approved an additional $600 a week payment for a period of four months for individuals who have lost or will lose their jobs due to the global pandemic.

 

Both the federal government and the state of California have extended unemployment benefits to include independent contractors and other gig workers.

 

6.  You Don’t Have to Lose Your Job to Get Unemployment Benefits

 

During the state of emergency, Californians who are furloughed or quarantined without pay and expect to go back to their jobs may qualify for unemployment payments.

 

7.  Your Phone, Lights, Water and Utilities Will Not Be Disconnected

 

The California Public Utilities Commission has instructed all energy, water, sewer and communications companies to stop all disconnections.

 

8.  You Can Pause Your Student Loan Payments

 

The U.S. Department of Education has granted Americans who owe student loans a 60-day payment waiver.

 

“All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0 % for a period of at least 60 days,” stated a U.S. Department of Education press release. “In addition, each of these borrowers will have the option to suspend their payments for at least two months to allow them greater flexibility during the national emergency. This will allow borrowers to temporarily stop their payments without worrying about accruing interest.”

 

Borrowers will still have to contact their loan servicers to request the waiver or to find out if their student loan debts are eligible for the program.

 

Although the programs do not apply to private lenders, several of those institutions, including Sallie Mae, have agreed to suspend the monthly payments as well.

EPI applauds crucial provisions in the CARES Act, but its glaring flaws mean that more is needed

Statement • By Thea M. Lee • March 27, 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is an important and urgently needed step in the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, but more needs to be done. Last week, a record 3.3 million workers applied for unemployment insurance—and that is just the tip of the iceberg. The CARES Act includes crucial provisions for expanded unemployment insurance, aid to small businesses, cash payments to households, aid to states, and emergency funding for hospitals, health care supplies, and investments. It also includes half a trillion dollars for industry bailouts. The total package will provide more than $2 trillion in relief.

 

There is a great deal to like in this package, particularly the $600 increase in weekly unemployment insurance checks and the expansion of unemployment insurance coverage to many of those who fall through the gaping holes in our unemployment insurance system, including the self-employed.

 

The CARES Act, however, contains many flaws, largely left over from the first proposal put forward by Senate Republicans. First, the single biggest tranche of money goes toward industry bailouts without adequate safeguards to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used to save the jobs and wages of typical workers, rather than to preserve the wealth of shareholders, creditors, and corporate executives. It also egregiously fails to include explicit protections for worker safety during this epidemic in industries seeking federal relief. This proposal also repeats terrible mistakes of the past by not instituting economic-conditions-based triggers that ensure relief and recovery aid continue as long as is needed.

 

While the initial Republican proposal had no money for aid to state and local governments, this bill makes $150 billion available—a clear improvement. However, even this aid is insufficient in scale and requires too many bureaucratic hurdles. Future aid packages should dramatically expand state and local fiscal relief and remove unnecessary obstacles in the approval process.

 

Though the CARES Act will alleviate hardship for millions, it does not fully protect U.S. workers and their families from the economic consequences of the coronavirus, and it will not set the stage for the economy to reboot quickly once the public health crisis ends.

 

Further help from policymakers will clearly be needed and should address these urgent gaps in scale and design. And we should keep in mind that deep and permanent structural reforms are needed in our social safety net, health care system, emergency preparedness, and worker protections, well beyond the immediate crisis response.

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