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It's been months since Americans received meaningful aid to help cope with the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating financial fallout. The CARES Act, which went into law in late March, delivered $1,200 direct stimulus checks to most citizens and a round of Paycheck Protection Program loans to help small businesses. Since then, there's been no aid to speak of. And while lawmakers have worked to hammer out a second relief package, so far, they've failed to agree on an all-encompassing bill despite extensive negotiations.
Given the number of people struggling at present, including millions of jobless Americans, some states are taking stimulus matters into their own hands. Here are a few states aiming to help residents make it through the pandemic.
Colorado is issuing $375 stimulus payments to residents experiencing financial hardship. Workers collecting between $25 and $500 a week in unemployment get a one-time payment.
New Mexico is offering $100 million (in grants) to small businesses, as well as $15 million in emergency housing assistance. In addition, it's giving $5 million to food banks, and another $5 million in direct payments to low-income residents not eligible for a CARES Act stimulus check. The state is also paying a one-time $1,200 benefit to the unemployed.
In New York City, the early U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, $35 million in no-interest loans are available to small business owners in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. The loans are worth up to $100,000 apiece.
Like New York, California is trying to help small businesses stay afloat. It created a $500 million fund to issue grants to small businesses and nonprofits. Recipients will be eligible for up to $25,000 early next year.
Maryland is issuing over $19 million in grants to help prevent evictions. That money will assist an estimated 3,600 households in the state.
Will more states follow suit?
In the absence of additional federal relief, there's a good chance more states will provide aid to residents and businesses in need. In fact, Minnesota is currently trying to pass legislation to extend unemployment benefits and supply $500 stimulus payments to families.
Of course, states may run into a lack of funding. But local aid will be crucial if a federal stimulus package doesn't pass soon. Countless Americans have depleted their savings and racked up serious debt to cope with the financial crisis. And with the pandemic far from over, it's clear they really need a lifeline.
Meanwhile, there's a $908 billion bipartisan stimulus proposal on the table in Washington that includes enhanced weekly unemployment benefits, state and local aid, $25 billion in rental assistance, and additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to help prevent small business closures. That proposal, however, does not include another round of direct stimulus checks. Unfortunately, that may be the single point of relief that the public needs the most right now.