Last year, President Joe Biden passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which included the release of 70,000 housing vouchers to U.S. cities experiencing high rates of homelessness. Through the Act, King County Housing Authority (KCHA) was granted 762 emergency housing vouchers and nearly $18.4 million in funding by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 2021. As of Nov. 14, KCHA has reported that 756 of the 762 emergency housing vouchers, or 99%, have been leased.
(This article was originally published on Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
Over the past six months, community organizations have distributed 15 million pounds of food to community members across the region as part of Public Health – Seattle & King County’s (PHSKC) Food Security Assistance Program (FSAP). The $5.4-million initiative, funded by federal COVID-19 emergency relief money, helped as many as 10,000 people a month, according to Sara Seelmeyer, the senior manager of food security and benefits for United Way of King County.
Despite hopes we’d be closer to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all continuing to grapple with how to navigate an uncertain future. The delta variant is surging as Washington State’s kids return to school. Essential COVID-19 protections, like the eviction moratorium and expanded unemployment benefits, have lapsed just as local rent prices have again begun to rise.
These types of stress can cause huge strains on mental health — especially for kids. And for families who are grappling with how to pay for rent and essentials, or the daily impacts of systemic racism, these stressors are multiplied. As a psychologist-in-training working at a local children’s inpatient program, I see firsthand just how many families in our community are struggling to maintain baseline economic stability.
Fortunately, the monthly Child Tax Credits — implemented in July as part of the American Rescue Plan — are a game changer. These direct cash payments of up to $300 per child for nearly 9 in 10 U.S. families with kids are providing a new standard of support. Critically, the credit was expanded to be fully refundable, which essentially means that families with very low to no incomes — who were previously ineligible — finally qualify for the credit’s full support.
A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
Excessive Heat Warning for Seattle Through Saturday
From Alert Seattle: “The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for Seattle due to forecasted high temperatures above 90 degrees. The warming trend will begin Wednesday and continue through Saturday. Cooling centers will be available across the city, and outreach teams are on the ground working with our most vulnerable residents to prevent heat illness in these extreme conditions. You can find a map of locations here.”
Millions of families with children in the United States will see a boost to their bank accounts starting next week as the federal government begins to send out money meant to help them with the cost of raising children.
On May 25, the King County Council passed a supplemental budget bill allocating $367 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for COVID-19 relief, while Seattle officials unveiled a draft plan for how the City intends to spend its share of the $1.85 trillion pie.
The King County budget bill includes $631 million in new spending: $367 million from ARPA, $249 million from a variety of other sources, and $16 million from the County’s existing reserves. The Seattle plan appropriates $128 million from ARPA: $116 million of flexible-use “COVID Local Recovery Funds” or CLRF, and $12 million specifically targeted for housing and homelessness programs. CLRF funds are received from the federal government in two equal payments: one now, and the second approximately one year from now. Seattle is planning to spend its CLRF funds as they come in; however, King County has chosen to front-load $367 million of their total $437 million allocation this year, spending from its cash balance now and using much of next year’s second payment as reimbursement.