Extra unemployment is over. So are most eviction moratoriums. Here's what relief could be coming next
- Republicans and Democrats continue to spar over the shape of the next stimulus package.
- From unemployment checks to relief for student loan borrowers, here's what's on the table so far.
Most of the relief measures delivered to Americans in the first stimulus package have dried up.
The weekly $600 federal unemployment checks are officially expired. Federal and state eviction moratoriums are going or gone.
Republicans and Democrats are now battling over the shape of the next stimulus package. Both sides are most divided over what to replace those $600 unemployment checks with. Some 30 million Americans were collecting those checks up until the end of last month.
Democrats want to extend the $600 weekly checks until at least the end of the year. In Republicans' proposal for the next coronavirus relief package, a $1 trillion plan called the HEALS Act, those weekly benefits would be slashed to $200 through September. After that, states would move to a system in which state and federal benefits combined would replace 70% of a workers' previous income. Experts have said this formula is too complicated to implement.
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Until an agreement is reached, jobless Americans will have only their state benefits to rely on. Thanks to the CARES Act, most workers will be able to collect these payments for 39 weeks, compared to the usual 26 weeks.
Still, experts say people can't survive on their state benefits alone. The typical state check stood at around $333 a week in April, but dipped as low as $100 in Oklahoma.
Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, called the state benefits "wholly insufficient."
Lawmakers in California are considering establishing their own $600 weekly benefit to unemployed residents if Congress fails to do so.
Democrats and Republicans do agree that there should be another onetime round of cash payments. The $1,200 stimulus checks sent out as part of the CARES Act are likely already long gone for many Americans struggling amid the pandemic.
And experts say that in a recession this severe, stimulus checks are necessary because state unemployment systems can be slow-moving. Indeed, there have been stories of people waiting more than four months for the checks.
"The stimulus checks reach more people, more quickly," said Felicia Wong, president and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, a New York-based think tank.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the second round of checks would likely be in Americans' bank accounts faster than the last time, potentially within a week after the package is passed.
The payment pause in the CARES Act for student loan borrowers will end in September, impacting as many as 45 million Americans who hold such debt.
Consumer advocates warn that many borrowers won't be ready to resume making their payments by then. Young people have been particularly hard hit by the recession, with as many as 1 in 4 people between the ages of 16 and 24 now unemployed.
"If borrowers are forced to resume repaying their student loans on Oct. 1, delinquencies and defaults will skyrocket," said Mark Kantrowitz, a higher education expert. "This year's college graduates are entering the worst job market ever."
Republicans didn't include an extension of the payment pause in their HEALS Act. Yet in House Democrats' $3 trillion HEROES Act passed in May, student loan borrowers wouldn't have to resume their payments for another year. The bill would also forgive $10,000 in debt for economically distressed borrowers.
President Donald Trump has expressed interest in an extension.
"We also suspended student loan payments for six months, and we're looking to do that additionally and for additional periods of time," Trump told reporters last week.
The final stimulus package will likely fall "somewhere in between the HEALS Act and the HEROES Act," Kantrowitz said.
At the end of July, the federal moratorium on evictions passed in the CARES Act expired. The Urban Institute estimated that provision covered nearly 30% of the country's rental units.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said last month that he would extend that moratorium, but these tenants are now unprotected from eviction. And most of the statewide eviction moratoriums are winding down. The proceedings have resumed in more than 30 states.
By one estimate, as many as 40 million Americans could be evicted during the public health crisis.
On July 25, Alaina Lattin was served an eviction notice at her home in Conroe, Texas. Now the single mother is worried that she and her four children will become homeless.
Lattin was laid off from her position at a car dealership in May and hasn't been able to find work since. She estimates that she's applied to more than 100 jobs. "Nobody is hiring," she said. "Everything is shut down right now."
"It's chaos," she added. "Nothing is improving on the outside, but the leasing office is still moving forward."
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