American Rescue Plan benefits go beyond checks and unemployment extensions

By now, everyone is aware of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan; a $1.9 trillion relief bill passed last month. In fact, most Americans have already received their Economic Impact Payments that were part of the plan.

This bill contains other not so well known benefits for low-income renters. Below is a summary of a few of those more obscure provisions.


  • Improvements to WIC Benefits

The Women, Infants and Children Nutritional Program (WIC) provides food assistance to qualifying pregnant women, mothers, and their infants and young children. The American Rescue Plan gave an extra $490 million to temporarily increase the value of the Cash Value Voucher (CVV) in the WIC program, up to $35 per month, which should run from July 1, 2021 until September 30, 2021. The bill also added WIC recipients with special dietary needs to the list of eligible participants to receive the increase in the CVV.

How does this help low-income renters?

For struggling pregnant women and low-income families with babies and small children, this provides extra assistance to purchase formula and healthy food.

  • Extension of Increases to the SNAP Program. 

The American Rescue Plan extended increases to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) maximum allotments, from July 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 which passed in December 2020, already raised maximum allotments to 115 percent of the June 2020 value of the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) from January 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021.

How does this help low-income renters?

For families who have lost earnings because of the pandemic or for other reasons, this provides extra assistance to buy groceries.

  • Continuation of the P-EBT Program

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT) provides ways that families can obtain food for children who no longer can receive school lunches or breakfasts due to school closures caused by the pandemic. The American Rescue Plan allows the program to be implemented for any public health emergency designated school year and extends the program through the summer.    

How does this help low-income renters?

With schools being shuttered or on partial openings, this helps children receive nutritious breakfasts or lunches that would normally be provided when schools are fully open.

Employer Benefits

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance payments

The American Rescue Plan contains a provision for funding of $15 billion to businesses located in low-income areas that have no more than 300 employees and have suffered an economic loss of more than 30%, in any eight-week period between March 2, 2020 and December 31, 2021.

The bill also has $25 billion set aside for grants to rescue restaurants, bars, and other eligible providers of food and drink hit by the pandemic shut-downs, up to $10 million per company.

How does this help low-income renters?

Many low-income renters have jobs with small local businesses and with restaurants and bars. Allowing these establishments to remain open, or to re-open allows employees to work and get paid.

  • Grants for Shuttered Venue Operators (Movie Theaters, Music Halls, Museums and Other Venues) 

The American Rescue Plan has allotted $1.25 billion for grants to distribute to shuttered venue operators. This includes owners of movie theaters, live music events, museums, and other types of entertainment venues.

How does this help low-income renters?

Low-income renters may have had full or part time jobs with these types of entertainment establishments. Granting funds to these businesses allows them to remain open, or to re-open. so employees can work and get paid.

  • Americorps

The American Rescue Plan provided for an infusion of $1 billion to AmeriCorps and its many programs, including VISTA. People who work for Americorps receive a stipend, health benefits and educational grants.

How does this help low-income renters?

Americorps volunteers receive money and other benefits for their service work and for most low-income housing programs, the Americorps income and benefits are excluded as countable earnings.

Renter and Homeowner Assistance

  • Assistance for Tenants of UDSA-Financed Properties

The Section 521 Rental Assistance program has been awarded $100 million to assist tenants living in USDA-financed properties who are not already receiving rental assistance and have lost income because of the pandemic.

How does this help low-income renters?

Persons living in USDA-financed apartments who aren’t getting rental assistance and have lost income or earnings will get help with making rent payments.

  • Provisions for Low-Income Homeowners in Rural Areas

Safeguards have been added to the ARP for low-income homeowners, with $39 million for new Section 502 direct mortgage loans (mortgage payment assistance) and Section 504 repair loans (money loaned to very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize homes or remove safety hazards for elderly very-low-income homeowners.

How does this help low-income renters?

This doesn’t help renters, but it does help low-income homeowners to refinance mortgages and make repair loan payments. 

Services for Elderly or Persons with Disabilities

  • Additional Support for Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services During the COVID-19 Emergency

Included in the American Rescue Plan is a provision to give states a 10 percent increase of federal matching funds for Medicaid funded home and community-based services from April 1, 2021 through March 30, 2022. This is an expansion of funds used mostly to provide elderly and disabled persons with services such as assistance with daily self-care and essential household chores.

How does this help low-income renters?

Low-income renters who are persons with disabilities or elderly and need assistance with household chores or personal self care, will continue to receive needed services.These services are designed to prevent or delay nursing home placement.  

Also, those who need the services but are not currently receiving them because of depleted funding, may now be added to home care programs.

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