COVID-19 recovery is possible for America with Congress on our side
We’re all facing tough decisions right now. For some, these impossible choices have life-changing impact. When a single mom pays her rent, that may mean she misses a car payment, putting transportation to her job in jeopardy. And without her job, will eviction then follow? It’s a vicious cycle, and one that we need to break.
The millions of dollars raised for Covid-19 relief through The Pittsburgh Foundation led Emergency Action Fund, the other charitable support from our region’s philanthropic and business community and the thousands of calls made to United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s 2-1-1 helpline are proof enough that the coronavirus pandemic is still having a devastating impact across our region and that we, as a community, are coming together to successfully provide relief. But this is not enough. Not by a long shot.
Together, United Way and The Pittsburgh Foundation, along with many other caring community partners, have joined forces to try to stave off the destructive effects of this pandemic. Still, unemployment ravages our communities, families face unbearable uncertainty to start the school year and in every corner of our region, people are hurting.
Now is the time for Congress to step in and provide national leadership and support:
- Pass the fifth coronavirus relief package.
Thanks to the bipartisan efforts from Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey and Representatives Mike Doyle, Guy Reschenthaler, Glenn Thompson, Conor Lamb and Mike Kelly, Congress enacted legislation to help families stay in their homes, keep food on the table and make ends meet. But now, Congress must act quickly and in a bipartisan manner to pass another bill to address the long-lasting impact of this pandemic.
- Expand universal charitable giving incentives via the CARES Act.
Charitable donations for non-profit services due to Covid-19 have decreased, while the demand for these services has gone through the roof. The temporary $300 charitable deduction included in the CARES Act is a step in the right direction and can relieve donors of the tax burden on their charitable donations.
- Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) for working families.
EITC and CTC are some of the best tools we have to fight poverty. With skyrocketing unemployment rates, people without an income would no longer qualify for EITC and lose income stability. This change can be prevented by filing income from 2019 or 2020 when calculating their 2020 EITC and CTC. An expansion of these programs can help families cover the essentials such as food, transportation and utility bills.
- Increase funding for Medicaid.
Medicaid is how many survive; increased funding will be needed through the entirety of this pandemic and until the economy has been restored.
- Provide supplemental emergency funding for programs that support the financial stability of families and communities.
Congress should support programs like United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline and others providing aid to the community. Callers dial 2-1-1 to speak with a trained resource navigator to access locally available resources that help meet their needs, and are doing so right now in record numbers.
- Increase monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
Since Covid-19, we’ve seen a spike in families experiencing food insecurity; currently, 14 million children are still not getting enough to eat. Our local non-profit partners are rising to the rescue as much as possible, but increased SNAP benefits are needed.
- Invest more in Enhanced Unemployment Insurance and Economic Impact Payments.
With the job market at an all-time low, many are questioning what they will do when their unemployment runs out. By extending unemployment, families will have a fighting chance to get back on their feet and return a stable environment.
Together, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and The Pittsburgh Foundation are on the frontlines, sleeves rolled up, fighting to help our communities. But it’s not enough. It’s time for our leaders to step up to move us forward. America’s recovery starts right here at home.