New York just announced that the Lost Wages Assistance Program is finally being disbursed, starting next week. For those who do not know, the Lost Wages Assistance Program is the name for the Executive Order that was signed by the president, after Congress was unable to reach a second Covid relief aid and stimulus plan.
At the time, the additional unemployment benefits of $600 for those unemployed as a result of the pandemic expired. These additional benefits expired on July 31st. This left millions of people who were unemployed, and for the most part unable to return to work, scrambling to pay their bills. At the same time, the protections for renters against evictions also expired. A second part of the same Executive Order was aimed to help those Americans.
Unfortunately, Congress remains unable to come to an agreement. Not only that, but the Republican-controlled senate took a recess after being unable to create a new relief plan. This left millions of Americans lost in a sea of confusion, unsure of what would happen next with their finances and evictions.
As a stop-gap measure, the president’s executive order has helped, and will continue to help, many Americans struggling to make ends meet while the pandemic is still raging. Just the other day, Congress was once more unable to reach an agreement between the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
In New York City and State, in fact, new eviction cases can be filed, although they are not allowed to proceed until further guidance is received. In addition, the City of New York’s Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett, who oversees the Marshall’s Office, has paused all eviction warrant executions until October. It us unclear how the president’s executive order will affect tenants that cannot pay their rent.
However, for New Yorkers who have lost work as a direct result of the pandemic, they will soon be able to pay their bills again, and will have a chance to catch up on their rent payments and purchase food and other basic necessities. The payments of the additional $300, that were authorized by the president’s executive order, will begin next week in New York.
This is very good news, and will help many people to breathe a little easier. However, one of the main reasons why the Senate has been stalling on passing the unemployment relief parts of the bill, especially the $600 per week additional benefit, is because they insisted that many Americans were refusing to return to work due to the fact that they were making more money by staying home.
Now that the numbers, for unemployment in August, have been released, it would seem quite clear that this is totally not the case. The unemployment number decreased by only 2%, whereas the overall rate of unemployment remains quite high. If it had, in fact, been a case of people refusing to work due to the additional benefit, then when that benefit expired, they would have immediately returned to work.
Many Americans, especially gig workers, are only receiving about $100-200 per week in unemployment. While this is better than no benefit at all, it is certainly not enough to pay the rent in New York City.
It is also quite possible that this entire increase is due to the US Census moving forward, and hiring many new people in order to complete the Census. This is very temporary work, and will end by the end of September, and possibly October.
When we consider the fact that most businesses which were declared non-essential were allowed to open at only 25 or 50% capacity, and many businesses such as restaurants, remain shuttered, it would seem that there were not a whole lot of people that were refusing to work. In contrast, the jobs were simply not there.
This additional $300 per week that was authorized by President Trump will help many families continue to eat, and to suffer less sleepless nights, as now they will have a way to pay at least some of their bills. Hopefully, Congress can come to an agreement soon, since these benefits will only last for three or at the most six weeks.