A second round of stimulus checks will be sent directly to consumers beginning next week, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The $900 billion stimulus package negotiated by Congress over the weekend will include $600 individual stimulus checks for those making under $75,000, $300 a week of extra unemployment benefits, federal food and rent relief, and money for schools and small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program.
The relief package comes nine months after the CARES Act was enacted in March, which provided payments of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child to combat the COVID-19 pandemic that left millions jobless.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that rent relief, specifically, will amount to approximately $25 billion of the second bill. The bill must still be passed by both houses of Congress.
The most common form of assistance for renters during the pandemic, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), was from landlords allowing tenants to miss months worth of rent payments. Landlords offered rent payment options to 64% of respondents, while 36% said they weren’t offered anything, the trade group said.
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According to the Weekly Housing Market Monitor from the NAR, 95% of median rent was paid in the second quarter of 2020, despite record amounts of people applying for unemployment.
The bill comes as Americans were also set to lose access to expanded and extended unemployment benefits earmarked for expiration shortly after Christmas. An eviction moratorium was also set to expire on Dec. 31. The latest bill pushed back the eviction moratorium to Jan. 31.
For homeowners who are having trouble making mortgage payments, forbearance rules are still in effect as part of the CARES Act. Regulators haven’t determined when loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac will wind down forbearance. Homeowners with loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration are being asked to contact their servicer and request forbearance before Dec. 31.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tweeted the announcement of the second bill, saying it comes at an important time for Americans during the holiday season.
“As the American people continue battling the coronavirus this holiday season, they will not be on their own,” he tweeted. “Congress has just reached an agreement. We will pass another rescue package ASAP. More help is on the way.”
McConnell has been under fire for months, and on Sunday, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) told CNN the second checks were for survival, not stimulus.
“This is about basic needs, about families needing to remain safely housed, about purchasing diapers and formula, inhalers, insulin,” Pressley said. “And the truth of the matter is $600 will not even cover a month’s rent.”
Pressley is joined by other Democrat members of Congress who pushed for larger relief checks – closer to the $1,200 sent out in March – for citizens who are still struggling to pay rent, are behind on mortgages, or have accrued massive credit card debts in the past nine months.
“Six hundred dollars is hardly sufficient,” Pressley said on the floor of Congress last week.
But many Republic members of Congress blame Pelosi for the delay, saying a second bill would have been passed much earlier in 2020 if not for the Speaker’s slow actions.
“This COVID relief is good news for thousands of small businesses and workers who have hung on,” tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). “But the truth is Congress could have done this deal months ago. Nancy Pelosi is the only reason it didn’t happen sooner. While Americans lost paychecks, she continued to collect hers.”
The bill also requires a signature from President Donald Trump.