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Tell your Governor NOT to cancel Unemployment Benefits!

Written by admin on . Posted in Action Alert

Washington, DC – After what many see as a disappointing April jobs report, state officials in at least 11 states are threatening to cancel the additional $300 per week added unemployment benefits passed in the American Rescue Plan. These benefits, paid for solely by the federal government, are set to expire in September 2021. Governors are attacking the generous unemployment compensation and plan to end the additional subsidy in June. Below are the states that might see pandemic unemployment benefits cut before the rest of the country:

StateBenefit End Date
AlabamaJune 19, 2021
ArizonaJuly 10, 2021
ArkansasJune 26, 2021
GeorgiaJune 26, 2021
IdahoJune 19, 2021
IowaJune 12, 2021
MississippiJune 12, 2021
MissouriJune 12, 2021
MontanaJune 27, 2021
North DakotaJune 19, 2021
OhioJune 26, 2021
South CarolinaJune 30, 2021
South DakotaJune 26, 2021
TennesseeJuly 3, 2021
UtahJune 26, 2021
WyomingJune 19, 2021
All other statesSeptember 6, 2021

Background:
The first pandemic economic recovery bills, passed in bipartisan efforts in 2020, supplemented unemployment compensation benefits with additional federal support of first $600 then $300 to stabilize the US economy and avoid a depression. The new Biden administration bolstered this critical unemployment fund in March 2021 with the passage of the American Rescue Plan, which provided $300 a week in from the unemployment compensation fund through September 2021. After what some consider to be a disappointing April jobs report, some legislators and Governors have stepped up to demonize the program, though economists have reported that these concerns about “too generous” benefits are simply not true.

Why you should take action:
The economy IS recovering with help of the American Rescue Plan, and recovery packages passed in 2020. Unemployment benefits, just like basic income programs, infuse money into the local economy. Households use the extra income to pay rent and utilities or to buy food and clothes for their kids. Here are more facts about the April jobs report and unemployment (thanks to our friends at the Economic Policy Institute):

  • Low-wage sectors—where workers are receiving a higher share of their prior income than in other sectors—saw much faster job growth than higher-wage sectors in April. This is exactly the opposite of what you’d expect to see if the $300 per week was keeping people from working.
  • Labor force participation rose rapidly in April, but the gains were all among men—women actually lost ground. Given that women still shoulder the lion’s share of caregiving responsibilities, this points to care needs being the thing holding back labor supply, not unemployment benefits. 
  • The disappointing net job gains in April were not due to a slowdown in hiring—hiring actually rose. The disappointing April job gains were due to a large increase in layoffs and other job separations among women (most often care-givers, especially for kids where schools are not yet open). 
  • Millions of workers still have legitimate health concerns about returning to work. But numbers show that for every 10% increase adults being fully vaccinated is associated with a 1.1 percentage point increase in employment. (Aaron Sojourner, Labor Economist)

Businesses are slowly opening, and will continue to do so after the CDC’s announcement that fully vaccinated people can resume most pre-pandemic activities. It will take time to get the economy back up and running. In the meantime, contact your Governor to say, “Don’t cut off unemployment! It puts needed cash in the pockets of hurting families, and helps stimulate our local economy!”

Extra cash has contributed to the economy rebounding, and taking away the benefits damages the ability for people to pay the rent or provide food. This philosophy will not incentivize Americans to return to work, but instead will further divide this country. Tell your Governor to #SaveUnemployment!

New Jersey Executive Chef Dedicates His Life’s Work to Helping the Homeless

Written by admin on . Posted in Blog

During a time when our nation needs it most, Executive Chef Cardie Mortimer wants to help us find unity in the kitchen. The culinary therapy cookbook, Keep on Cookin’ contains 280 pages full of recipes and stories about life, love, and laughter. “Keep on Cookin’ was written intentionally to bring families and friends back to the heart of the home, the kitchen.” – Executive Chef Cardie Mortimer.

Executive Chef Cardie Mortimer graduated from the New Orleans Culinary Institute in 1978 and has received numerous teaching and culinary certifications of the past 42 years. In New Jersey alone, he has served as a popular instructor at King’s Cooking Studios in Short Hills, Adult School of Montclair, the Adult school of Continuing Education in West Caldwell, and was the 1995 Master Teaching Professional at Chef’s Lab in Montclair.

Donate $100 and we’ll send Mom a copy of Cardie’s soulful cookbook!

Over the years, Chef Cardie has acted as an advisor, sous chef, and Executive Chef in many northern New Jersey restaurants and in Birmingham, Alabama, and Savannah GA. He was also a guest chef in two Emeril Lagasse restaurants in Las Vegas. Some of the world-class chefs Cardie has worked alongside include Robert Irvine, Neil Dohery (Cisco Foods), Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudehomme, Sean Roe, Dana D’Anzi Tuohy, and Kevin Belton (New Orleans School of Cooking).

Celebrity chef Maria Liberati describes Cardie as a chef that cooks with soul. Outside of the kitchen, Chef Cardie believes giving back is another great way for us to come together. His relationship with a homeless man named Charlie inspired him to gift all proceeds from Keep on Cookin’ to support the National Coalition for the Homeless, and other organizations working to end homelessness. 

Resources in the American Rescue Plan of 2021, and How to get your Economic Impact Payments

Written by admin on . Posted in Blog

Our April Town Hall (click here for more on the Town Hall Series) featured a look at the American Rescue Plan passed by the 117th US Congress and signed into law on March 11, 2021 by President Joe Biden.  The first speaker was Janne Huang, Outreach Campaign Strategy Manager at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (www.cbpp.org).  Huang has worked over the last year to assure that low income and especially homeless people have access to direct financial assistance provided in the three COVID Relief packages passed over the last year.  She began her discussion by describing the $1,400 stimulus funds and the additional resources for families as life changing for many, and so it was critical for groups to help people access to those dollars.  Ms. Huang wrote an article for CBPP last year which is still relevant for the March COVID relief package:

The easiest way to help those without income access these funds are to file an IRS tax return for 2020 tax year.  Those incarcerated individuals are also eligible, and you should claim everyone residing in your household to get the full benefit.  The American Rescue plan also offers an advance on child tax credit that can be as much as $3,000 per child as part of your refund in 2021.  The local 2-1-1 system has lists of local programs which can help individuals file their taxes for free.  Agencies can get a tool kit from the IRS to help people file their taxes and can answer some common questions about the COVID relief funds.  Huang described the IRS Get-My-Payment website, which can help with filing and tracking those checks. https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment

There is also a process in which an agency can be trained to be a local assistance center to offer tax filing assistance.  The agency can then work with clients to answer some questions, securely upload income and banking documents then the IRS will take over and assure the client gets their recovery funds.  Individuals do not need a bank account either to receive the help, they can get debit cards or actual physical checks.  Those just add time to the processing.  The IRS has even made it possible to receive assistance through phone peer to peer payment apps like Venmo.  We learned at the Town Hall that shelters in which many people are using as an address sometimes slows down the processing.  Local shelters can register with the local IRS office to clear up the confusion.  Also, the use of PO Boxes sometimes will slow down the processing of these payments. 

Other resources for assisting someone with, or obtaining EIP payments:

The other presenter was NCH Board President and Minnesota advocate, Sue Watlov Phillips who provided a broader look at the American Rescue funds and how they can be used for creating programs to assist with housing and support services.  Huang’s presentation focused on the benefits for the individuals while Watlov Phillips focused on the funds available to non-profit agencies.  Some of this is up in the air since the rules for use of these funds will not be released until the fall, but these are assumptions based on the past two emergency allocations from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The big difference in these funds is they do not rely on the limited definition of homelessness HUD uses in most of their programs because it includes those at risk of homelessness, domestic violence victims including those fleeing an abuser who is stalking them and veterans who may not be able to be served by the VA.  Click here to find out how much your community is receiving here is the HUD site with the dollar figures for the $5 Billion in HOME program for people experiencing homelessness.

The important message here is that there is a great deal of money coming to the local community for reducing the impacts of homelessness and you need to be involved in how that money is distributed.  Advocates, including people who have experienced homelessness and/or housing crises in the local community know how to best utilize these dollars, and they need to be at the table. Nearly every big city and larger metropolitan county/parish has a “continuum of care” committee which will most likely oversee how these dollars are spent.  Some are managed by a local governmental body while others have a private company or non-profit which oversees the committee.  There are typically social service providers, children’s programs, legal assistance programs, housing entities, advocates and typically a couple people with lived experience.  They typically have public meetings and other community input.  For rural communities the states take the lead in managing these funds in what is typically called “the balance of state” advisory boards.  Again, these are typically public entities like housing development agencies who coordinate these groups.  Get involved and push for housing over shelters.  Push those entities to think broadly about the problem and do not push people down only one path.  Give people experiencing homelessness dignified programs that can quickly and safely move them back to stability.  We need your voice at the state and local levels to advocate for effective alternatives.  

There will also be $5 Billion in Emergency Housing Vouchers which will also include a broader definition of homelessness.  Public Housing Authorities will be receiving notification of this in the next 4-5 weeks, which will hopefully be facilitated on an aggressive technical assistance model. 

Finally, there is a proposed 15% increase in the HUD budget for fiscal year 2022 which would hopefully be in place by October 2021.  

More resources on the FY22 budget here

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