Charlotte Nonprofits Brace For More Need As $600 Unemployment Benefits Run Out
July 24 is the day Americans will see an end to the federal government’s $600 in additional unemployment benefits. Next week, North Carolina’s moratorium on utility shutoffs ends. Congress is currently negotiating an extension of the payments, but many Charlotte-area nonprofits are preparing for a greater demand for help from residents facing unemployment and mounting bills.
The federal government’s extended unemployment benefits through the CARES Act were slated to run through the end of July. But because of the way the law was written, the checks will run out on July 24, during the last full week of the month.
When that happens, people will only have lower, state unemployment payments if they still have weeks left to draw on. North Carolina’s regular state unemployment benefits are currently capped at 12 weeks and up to $350 dollars a week, depending on a worker’s wages. The U.S. Department of Labor lists North Carolina’s 12-week period of unemployment benefits as one of the shortest in the country.
Floyd Davis Jr. leads the Charlotte housing nonprofit Community Link. He said his organization's rental assistance and other programs wouldn't be able to replace the $600 a week that people were receiving.
"You know, we could help for maybe a month, to keep them housed," Davis said. "But we won’t have the ability to sustain them for a long period of time."
Davis said many people that his organization serves work in the service industry, and he doesn’t expect many of those jobs will come back quickly.
Carol Hardison, CEO of Crisis Assistance Ministry, said the impacts will be immediate if local organizations can’t fill the gap.
"At the end of the day, it’s longer lines and more evictions and more utility disconnections between the private sector and the public sector and the systems," Hardison said.
Crisis Assistance Ministry’s average assistance payments, which cover rent and utilities, have increased from $400 a person before the pandemic to more than $1,000 now. Hardison said the organization prepared by raising more money from its donors. It also received money from the city of Charlotte, which allocated $7 million in federal stimulus money from the CARES Act for rent relief programs in late May.
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