Late, but families welcome help from Congress on stimulus package

The coronavirus relief package is going to mean the most to families who are facing financial hardship.

Congress reached an agreement on the $900 billion deal that will provide $600 direct stimulus payments to most Americans, and an additional $300 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits.

"It’s so important that this deal got done now. It would’ve been great to have this four months ago," said Marieka Klawitter, Professor of Public Policy and Governance at UW. "That’s a lot of food that you can buy. That’s half a rent check for many families. So that is going to make a big difference to get that $600 to a lot of families. Family stability really allows the economy to continue and grow back to what it was."

Alysa McCormick has two young daughters and another baby on the way. The financial pressure has weighed heavy on her since she’s been out of a job.

"I think I’ve cried more in the last six months than I have in my entire life because of this. The fact that I don’t go to work because I don’t have childcare, I’m pregnant and I have severe asthma and I can’t work in a pandemic," said McCormick.

Her husband is in the Army National Guard. Through the military, the family has received some assistance with rent and bills. Still, it wasn’t enough to keep the family out of debt.

"I feel like we’ve paid everything, and we stuck on it, but somehow we still ended up in the hole," said McCormick. "I think the [stimulus money] will go straight to pay the rent and maybe a car payment or two and get caught up again."

McCormick said the financial support from the federal government is definitely not going to be enough, but any little bit is a blessing to have.

"It shouldn’t be waiting until the last minute. I feel like there should be something set in stone so people aren’t stressing out and worried about what they’re going to eat next week or how they’re going to pay their rent if the eviction and everything gets lifted," said McCormick.

McCormick said her unemployment benefits were set to expire on December 26, but Congress’s actions will now extend pandemic unemployment assistance for several weeks.