On January 14, 2021, President-Elect Joe Biden released his “American Rescue Plan,” a proposed $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package that would help low-income renters in many ways, such as:
Emergency Rental Assistance
$30 billion of funds would go to emergency rental assistance programs. $5 billion of this amount is reserved to help struggling renters pay their utility bills.
Many Americans would receive a $1,400 stimulus check, as follow-up to the $600 check approved in the December relief package. Makes for a total stimulus of $2,000 per person. Payments will now include adult dependents (17+ years old) who were left out of earlier rounds. It will also include households with mixed immigration status. Earlier stimulus payments left out the U.S. citizen/legal resident spouses of undocumented immigrants.
A $400 per week federal unemployment boost is proposed, effective through the end of September, 2021. It would also extend the coverage for gig workers and self-employed workers, just as the previous relief bills have done.
Minimum Wage Increase
The minimum wage is proposed to be increased to $15 per hour. Biden also proposes eliminating the decreased minimum wage for tipped and disabled workers.
Food and Nutrition Assistance
The 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits would be extended through the end of September. Also, $3 billion in additional funds would be used to help meet nutritional needs of women, infants and children. Additionally, $1 billion will be provided to territories for nutrition assistance.
$5 billion would be used to help state and local governments assist people experiencing homelessness.
Other Important Items
- A new $25 billion emergency fund would be created to help childcare providers, and $15 billion would be added to an existing grant program. Funding would cover rent, utilities, payroll, and increased costs of dealing with the pandemic (like PPE).
- Child Tax Credits would be temporarily boosted to $3,600 for kids under 6 years old, and $3,000 for kids 6-17.
- The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would be increased to almost $1,500 for child-free adults. The income limit for EITC would be increased to about $21,000, and expands the age of eligibility to cover older workers.
- Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies would be increased so that people will not have to pay more than 8.5% of their income for health care coverage. $4 billion would also be provided for mental health and substance abuse services, and $20 billion for healthcare needs of veterans.
- Emergency paid family leave and sick leave benefits that expired at the end of December would be extended to the end of September, 2021. Under this proposal, workers who are sick, quarantining, or caring for a child whose school is closed can receive 14 weeks of paid leave.
- A new $15 billion grant program for small businesses would be created. This would be separate from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that has provided forgivable loans to keep small businesses afloat.
- $350 billion would be given to state and local governments. Funding distribution would be flexible to keep frontline workers on the job, distribute vaccines, reopen schools, and related efforts.
- Schools, colleges and universities would be allocated $170 billion to help them reopen safely.
- $20 billion would be used for a national vaccination program. This includes paying for community vaccination centers and mobile units for hard-to-reach areas.
- $50 billion to expand testing, especially in schools.