DCFPI applauds the passage of the American Rescue Plan. This legislation is the kind of action we need at this moment, when unemployed workers are still struggling to pay their bills, millions of Americans are falling further behind on rent and at risk of facing homelessness, and parents are worrying about how they will feed their children.
Thank you to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton for working hard to pass the American Rescue Plan and delivering the relief our District needs.
“Help is on the way for DC. This legislation is a landmark achievement, cutting child poverty in half and making bold investments to prevent hunger, evictions, sickness, and prolonged job loss,” said Tazra Mitchell, Policy Director at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. “We have a long way to go to build a robust and just economic recovery, given that racial inequities have widened more in this downturn than in any other, as Black and brown residents bear the brunt of this hardship.”
Key elements of the COVID relief package that will help families stay afloat in DC include:
- increased housing assistance and an extension of increased SNAP food benefits to help residents keep their homes and afford food;
- extended pandemic unemployment assistance through September 6;
- financial assistance to help people meet urgent expenses, such as rent, groceries, utility bills, and car payments, delivered through expanded tax credits and stimulus payments; and,
- improved access to affordable health coverage through enhanced premium tax credits for people with low incomes and middle-class families.
The package also includes much-needed state and local government fiscal relief to keep our communities going. These funds will help the District protect jobs for teachers, firefighters, and other critical public employees, prevent underinvestment in core services like education and health care, and provide assistance to people who have been hit hardest by the pandemic and recession. In addition, there are dedicated funds to support schools that can be used to pay for the cost of distance learning, safe in-person instruction, caring for the physical and mental health of returning students, and most importantly, aid with learning loss students have suffered.
Overall, the American Rescue Plan provides much needed, but temporary relief. As we approach the one-year mark of the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, it has become increasingly clear that economic recovery isn’t going to happen overnight, particularly for people of color, who have waited longest in past recessions to see the gains from a rebounding job market.
“The District has more work to do to build a more equitable economy that works for everyone,” Mitchell said. “We look forward to working with the Mayor and DC Council on the best ways to allocate federal recovery relief dollars in ways that are well targeted and that will reduce the longstanding inequities exacerbated by the pandemic.”
To learn more about DCFPI’s recommendations to DC’s leaders on how they can put equity first as they allocate the city’s recovery money and throughout this budget season, go to www.dcfpi.org.