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Spring 2021 Federal and California COVID-19 Relief Actions

Between federal and state funding, Californians can expect help in different forms over the next few weeks, and likely beyond. Below you will find information about some of the money coming down for you or for programs you work with and/ or rely on.

 

DIRECT PAYMENTS, TAX CREDITS, CHILD CARE, & EMERGENCY FUNDS

  • The American Rescue Plan, signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, provides $1,400 direct payments, which will go out immediately to about 159 million households. Checks will be a maximum of $1,400 per individual, or $2,800 per married couple, plus $1,400 per dependent.
    • Payments are based on your most recent tax return. Individuals who file taxes using an ITIN will not get a federal stimulus payment, but anyone filing with a Social Security Number will receive a payment.
    • Individuals earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income, heads of household with up to $112,500, and married couples filing jointly with up to $150,000 will get the full $1,400 per person.
    • The plan also includes $300 in bonus unemployment benefits until September 6th, and makes the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits nontaxable for those with incomes under $150,000 per year.
  • The American Rescue Plan also increases SNAP food benefits by 15% through September, and allocates $1 billion for the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) Pandemic Emergency Fund. California will receive $203 million in TANF emergency funds that can be used for payments to families for non-recurring costs like rental debt or to provide housing assistance.
  • California has a separate $600 direct stimulus payment program, which will go out to 5.7 million Californians once their taxes are filed. Eligibility for the state stimulus includes:
    • Those who qualified for the state Earned Income Tax Credit on their 2020 tax returns (usually those making less than $30,000, and some undocumented and mixed-status families).
    • Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) holders who are excluded from federal stimulus checks and have incomes below $75,000.
    • Households enrolled in CalWorks, SSI/SSP recipients, and Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI) recipients.
    • ITIN taxpayers who qualify for the California Earned Income Tax Credit will receive a total of $1,200.
  • The American Rescue Plan raises the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for adults without children from $543 to $1,502.
  • The American Rescue Plan expands the child tax credit for one year. Previously, most families received up to $2000 in tax credits per child under age 17; under the new plan, most parents except the very highest earners will receive a $3600 payment for children 5 and under, and up to $3,000 for children between 6-17. This includes families without taxable income.
  • The American Rescue Plan temporarily increases the value of the child and dependent care tax credit, which currently covers 35% of care expenses up to $3,000 for one dependent or $6,000 for two or more dependents.
    • Overall, the plan provides $39 billion for child care through:
      • $15 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).
      • $24 billion for newly created child care stabilization grants.

HEALTH

  • The American Rescue Plan provides $0 premiums for people enrolled in Covered California earning less than 150% of the federal poverty level or who claim unemployment anytime during 2021. It provides additional premium support for people who earn more, and forgives excess premium support given in 2020 that people would normally have to pay back.
  • The American Rescue Plan covers more of the state’s Medi-Cal costs, like home and community based services, and a 100% federal match for COVID-19 vaccines given by Medi-Cal.
  • The plan also provides a state option to extend postpartum Medicaid for 12 months instead of 60 days. California currently does this only for people diagnosed with a mental health condition within the 60 day postpartum period.

HOUSING

  • California received $2.6 billion in federal rental relief from the COVID-19 package passed in December 2020; those funds became available on March 15, 2021.
    • Renters who make under 80% of an area’s median income are eligible for rental assistance under California’s SB 91. Landlords must apply for the assistance, and agree to waive 20% of rent owed between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 – the remaining 80% will be paid by government funds.
    • If a landlord refuses to participate, renters can still apply to have 25% of back rent paid.
    • Cities and counties may distribute rent relief funds differently.
  • The American Rescue Plan provides an additional $21.6 billion in emergency aid for renters with low-incomes who have lost income or are experiencing hardship from COVID-19 and at risk for eviction. The plan includes:
    • $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers to support those recently homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
    • $750 million for tribal housing needs.
    • $100 million for rural households living in USDA-financed properties.