Philly’s coronavirus response

What the new stimulus means for Philly

Lawmakers in DC are close to approving funding for housing, schools, public transit, groceries, and more.

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More stimulus checks, weekly unemployment boosts, relief for small biz, and a bailout for tax-strapped local governments are coming Philadelphia’s way.

Congress approved the $1.9 trillion stimulus package Wednesday afternoon — which means funds could flow to Philly as soon as this month.

New provisions in what’s been dubbed the American Rescue Plan mostly mirror those set forth in other COVID-19 pandemic relief packages, but there are some differences around exactly where the funding goes.

Residents stand to get up to $1,400 each. Coupled with the $600 checks given out in December, the amount adds up to the $2,000 you may remember from the campaign trail. Other dollars will be directed to housing, schools, public transit, groceries, and families with children.

Who gets what and where will the money go? Here’s what to know.

How much $$$ will the state and city get?

Of the $350 billion for local governments, Pennsylvania stands to receive $13 billion, of which Philly could get around $2 billion.

Congressman Brendan Boyle outlined to the Inquirer last week the fraction of funds Philly and PA could receive under the earlier House stimulus version.

The $13 billion state funding includes:

  • $1.2 billion for child care
  • $5.3 billion for K-12 schools
  • $1.3 billion for colleges and universities

Additionally, Philly could gain:

  • $1.3 billion to cover pandemic-caused budget holes
  • $914 million for SEPTA and other transit
  • $115 million for PHL International Airport

Philly had to close a more than $700 million budget gap and faces a $450 shortfall in the coming fiscal year, officials have said. Meanwhile, SEPTA is looking at a $350 million deficit and airport CEO Chellie Cameron said the airport also faced multimillion dollar losses because of the pandemic.

How much will stimulus checks be?

This third round of stimulus will provide $1,400 direct payments to U.S. tax filers, including non-U.S. residents. Recipients must have a Social Security number.

Individuals earning less than $75k and couples making less than $150k annually qualify for the full $1,400 stimmy. The amount then phases out and income eligibility is capped at individuals making less than $80k and couples who earn less than $160k annually.

Families with dependent children may receive an additional $1,400 per kid — that includes college students and dependents up to 24 years old.

Will there be more unemployment payouts?

Yes. The stimulus package provides for $300 weekly payments in addition to regular unemployment through Sept. 6, according to the Washington Post and CNBC. Those boosts, first instituted last fall, are currently set to expire mid-March.

The legislation also extends Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, which made it so freelancers and gig workers can get benefits.

It extends the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation policy, which lengthens the duration any unemployed people can receive payments by up to 24 additional weeks.

The stimulus would also make $10,200 worth of unemployment payments tax-fee for households making less than $150k a year. The provision would be helpful to some Pennsylvanians who either applied for benefits and were unable to access them but taxed for the amount, or for those who were victims of unemployment fraud yet still face taxes, as revealed in a Spotlight PA investigation.

What relief is available for small businesses?

Tens of billions of dollars are earmarked for small business aid.

Restaurants and bars across the nation are set to receive $25 billion through a brand new program — the first that focuses on this hard-hit industry. It would provide grants of up to $10 million, which could be used for payroll, mortgage, rent, utilities, or food and drink costs. It’s unclear exactly how much of the funding would go to Philly restaurants specifically.

The Paycheck Protection Program is also getting a $7 billion injection. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden’s administration sought to make PPP loans more accessible to the smallest businesses last month by telling the SBA to accept applications only from companies with fewer than 20 employees.

Under the new legislation, an additional $15 billion would go to a long-term, low-interest loan program administered through the Small Business Administration.

How about helping people stay in their homes?

Nationally, the stimulus earmarks $20 billion for housing related relief.

About $10 billion would be directed toward homeowners for mortgage, utilities and property tax assistance. About $22 billion more would go toward rental assistance, $5 billion in aid for those at risk of homelessness, and another $5 billion would support emergency housing vouchers for people who are already experiencing homelessness.

Will there be a boost for SNAP or other welfare programs?

For SNAP recipients, the 15% pandemic increase currently set to expire in June would be extended through September. More than 450k Philadelphians receive SNAP benefits.

And states may continue their Pandemic-EBT benefits through the summer. The program allows states to opt into paying families to help cover the cost of free and reduced meals children would have received during in-person schooling. Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration recently submitted a plan to the federal government to provide about $1 billion to more than 900k families under this Pandemic-EBT initiative.

More than $500 million to the FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program would support homeless shelters, meal distribution and other services.

Any additional funding for families and those with children?

The Senate’s stimulus wants to send tax credits of $3,600 for each child younger than 6, and $3,000 for each child between 6 to 17 years old gradually throughout the year rather than as a lump sum.

Nationally, the bill would provide $39 billion for child care providers. Some of that funding must help struggling families afford child care costs.

Want some more? Explore other Philly’s coronavirus response stories.

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