Beginning this week, millions of unemployed people in Philadelphia and across the country will see less money deposited into their bank accounts — if they receive anything at all.
Enhanced federal unemployment insurance put in place during the pandemic and extended by the most recent COVID-19 relief bill expired over the weekend. As a result, about 7.5 million people across the country will lose all their unemployment benefits, and nearly 500,000 Pennsylvanians will be affected, according to estimates by the Century Foundation, a progressive public policy think tank.
The three federal unemployment programs that expired over the weekend are:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: Provided up to 79 weeks of unemployment benefits to freelancers and gig workers normally not eligible for traditional unemployment.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation: Provided up to 53 weeks of additional unemployment benefits.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation: Provided an additional $300 a week to unemployment payments.
Without the federal assistance, Pennsylvania pays up to $580 a week for those on unemployment for up to 26 weeks. The commonwealth’s unemployment rate in July was 6.6%, down from a pandemic-driven 13% in July 2020 but higher than the national unemployment rate of 5.4%.
Several state and federal programs will continue to provide aid, but most have specific requirements. Pennsylvania officials have compiled a list of resources for residents facing unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Enhanced Child Tax Credit
The Enhanced Child Tax Credit, which began in July, will continue to provide parents of eligible children up to $300 a month per child through December. According to the Department of Treasury, $15 billion in advance tax payments, impacting 61 million children and their families, were sent in August.
A $3.5 trillion budget plan released by Democrats last month would extend the credit beyond this year, and they plan to pass it through reconciliation — a legislative process that doesn’t require support from Republicans if every Democrat in the Senate supports the bill.
Student loan repayment pause
Last month, the moratorium on payment and interest from federal student loans was extended through Jan. 31, welcome aid for an estimated 42 million people in debt. More information can be found here.
The White House said this would be the final extension of the moratorium, so borrowers unable to resume their payments in February should contact their loan providers.
Help affording food
Benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will increase slightly in October, up to $157 a month per person — the largest benefits increase in the history of the program.
To receive benefits, you must apply in the state where you live and meet some eligibility criteria, including income level.
Cash assistance for families in need
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, known as TANF, is a benefits program aimed at providing cash assistance so low-income families become independent.
The program provides money to help:
Dependent children and their parents who live with them
Dependent children and other relatives who live with them and care for them
Support for pregnant people and infants
In Pennsylvania, aid from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children — known as WIC — is available for qualified individuals. Those eligible can apply at a local WIC agency or call 1-800-942-9467, and include:
People who are pregnant or had a baby in the last six months or 12 months if breastfeeding
Infants and children under age 5
Fathers, grandparents, and foster parents who are the legal guardian of a child under age 5
New Jersey’s WIC is a preventive public health nutrition program that provides nutrition and breastfeeding education, nutritious foods, and improved access to regular health care and social services to low- and moderate-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding people and young children with, or at risk of developing nutrition-related health problems. Find out here if you are eligible. Apply through your local WIC agency or clinic.
Despite the Supreme Court’s striking down an extension of the federal eviction ban, renters are still protected in Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Philadelphia’s eviction moratorium ended at the end of June, but landlords must continue to try mediation with tenants through the city’s nationally recognized Eviction Diversion Program, apply for rental assistance, and wait 45 days before filing to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent. That mandate lasts through Oct. 31.
Philadelphia residents in need can also apply for rental assistance by calling 311 or visiting the city’s rental assistance program website.
In New Jersey, an eviction moratorium remains through the end of the year for households with low and moderate incomes. Pennsylvania’s eviction moratorium ended last year.
Utility Emergency Services Fund
In Philadelphia, the Utility Emergency Services Fund provides assistance to families facing utility terminations or who are shut off. There are also several programs ranging from rent assistance to help with money and budgeting.
More information can be found on the Utility Emergency Services Fund’s website.
Help paying for child care
In Pennsylvania, eligible working families can receive helping paying a portion of their child-care fees through the Child Care Works Subsidized Child Care Program.
For information on the program guidelines and how to apply, visit the Department of Human Services’ website.
Staff writer Michelle Bond contributed to this article.