All levels of government across the country continue to take important action to address the growing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the first and biggest initiatives President Biden and his administration promised to undertake is the American Rescue Plan which is part one of a two-part effort to both boost the economy and help Americans who have felt the financial burden of the COVID-19 Pandemic for the past year.
The President will also roll out part two – an economic recovery plan – that would focus on job creation as well as climate change.
The American Rescue Plan would use $1.9 trillion to provide more aid for the unemployed, provide larger stimulus checks for Americans, find rental relief for renters facing eviction once moratoriums end, increase funding for vaccinations and testing for the coronavirus, and provide needed support for small businesses.
Visit our Focus on COVID-19 page for more on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on homeownership in the U.S.
Learn more about the benefits of this plan below:
Larger Stimulus Checks: The plan calls for another $1,400 in stimulus money to be sent to eligible taxpayers. Unlike the first stimulus last summer, adult dependents will also receive a check, as will families with mixed immigration, as spouses of undocumented immigrants were left without a check last summer.
Greater Unemployment Assistance: Those without jobs would get a federal boost of $400 a week in their unemployment checks, an increase from the $300 boost approved by Congress in December. In addition, individuals in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program and those in the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program who have ran out of state money, will be eligible for this weekly boost.
Aid for the Hungry: The plan calls for the extension of the 15% food stamp benefit increase from June through September. Additionally, there is $3 billion in aid that would go to helping women, infants and children (WIC) purchase more food and an additional $1 billion in nutrition assistance for U.S. Territories. The plan also calls for a public/private partnership between the federal government and restaurant owners to provide food for Americans in need and jobs for restaurant workers who have been laid off during the pandemic.
Child Care Assistance: The plan calls for Congress to create a $25 billion emergency fund and add $15 billion to an existing grant program to help childcare providers pay for rent, utilities, and payroll, and other increased costs associated with the pandemic such as personal protective equipment.
Rental Assistance: The plan calls for an additional $25 billion on top of the $25 billion approved in December, to provide funding for low- and moderate-income households who lost their jobs during the pandemic and who are struggling to pay the rent. Additionally, the plan would provide another $5 billion in funding to help renters-in-need to pay their utility bills and $5 billion to stop those on the brink of homelessness from losing their home.
Eviction Moratorium: The plan extends the federal eviction moratorium through the end of September and allows for mortgage forbearance applications to be applied for through September 30 as well, as long as the mortgage is federally guaranteed.
Increase in Child Tax credits: The plan would increase the childcare tax credit for one year so that families will get back up to 50 percent of the money spent on childcare for any child under the age of 13. Additionally, there would be a temporary increase in the Child Tax Credit to $3,600 for children six-years-old or younger and $3,000 for children between the ages of six and 17 for one year. The credit would also be fully refundable.
Increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit: The plan would raise the maximum Earned income Tax Credit to $1,500 for one year for adults without children, increase the income limit for the credit to $21,000 and expand the eligible age to help cover older workers.
Subsidize Health Insurance Premiums: The plan asks Congress to subsidize the premiums for individuals who lost their work-based health insurance through the end of September. Additionally, the plan would expand the premium subsidies of the Affordable Care Act where those enrolled wouldn’t have to pay more than 8.5% of their income for coverage. It also would ask Congress to fund $4 billion for mental health and substance use disorder services while adding an additional $20 billion for veteran health care needs.
Bringing Back Emergency Paid Leave: The plan would reinstate paid sick and family leave benefits that expired in December, through September 30. The benefit would also be extended to large businesses (more than 500 employees) and small businesses (fewer than 50) and add federal workers who were ineligible with the original program. The plan would provide 14 weeks of paid leave for individuals who are sick, quarantining, or caring for a child whose school is closed. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees would receive a 100 percent reimbursement from the government.
More support for vaccines and testing: The plan would provide a $20 billion investment in a national vaccination program that would create vaccination centers in communities across the country and provide mobile units in areas that are harder to reach. An additional investment of $50 billion would go toward testing, providing funds for rapid testing, expanded lab space and have regular testing implemented at schools so they can reopen sooner and safer. This would create 100,000 new public health jobs, which would practically triple the current workforce. This investment would also expand community health centers and health services on tribal land and support long-term care facilities and prisons to prevent outbreaks.
Grants for Small Businesses: The plan would provide $15 billion to create a new grant program for small businesses that is separate from the Paycheck Protection Program. It also would invest $35 billion in state, local, tribal and non-profit programs to provide low-interest loans and venture capital for those looking to start a business or invest in one.
Provide assistance for states and schools: The plan would send states $350 billion to state and local governments to keep frontline workers employed, distribute the vaccine more rapidly, continue to increase testing and get schools reopened. Additionally, $20 billion would be appropriated for hard-hit public transit agencies to prevent layoffs and route elimination. Meanwhile, $170 billion would be earmarked for elementary, high schools and colleges and universities to help them reopen safely or continue to facilitate remote learning.
Increase Minimum Wage: The plan would have Congress approve a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour, eliminate tipped minimum wage and the sub-minimum wage for individuals with disabilities.