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Voices’ Blog

2020 Special Session Funding Family Economic Security- What’s in the budget?  

Posted:  -  By: Chloe Edwards

Children and their families are experiencing unprecedented levels of hardship during this time where businesses, schools and child care closed. This week, new data from the Census Household Pulse survey revealed that 42 percent of households with children were having difficulty paying for basic needs. For families of color, it was even greater, with 59 percent of Black non-Latinx families and 55 percent of Latinx families experiencing challenges 

Economic challenges impact a family’s ability to feel safe and secure. When parents are worried, children are worried too, which introduces yet another trauma in addition to the pandemic as a whole 

On October 16, the House and Senate approved their final versions of a negotiated budget agreement. We are waiting for the Governor to approve the final budget. The House and Senate pulled from different resources to find assistance for families including state revenues, federal assistance from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security (CARES) Act, and federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds. Here is the impact the budget will have on children and families.  

Additional Financial Assistance Provided to Unemployed Individuals   

The Virginia Unemployment Commission (VEC) administers the unemployment compensation program that provides temporary assistance to those who become unemployed at no fault of their ownThe Virginia House and Senate approved additional funding for the state unemployment assistance program. In addition, to more state funding being available, the VEC has set a timeframe for when the additional $300 per week in Lost Wages Assistance will be available for individuals receiving unemployment assistance. 

–> Budget outcome: The appropriation in this item includes $210 million of CARES Act funds to supplement the state unemployment assistance program. 

 

Two-Parent Households Would Receive Additional TANF Support in 2021 

The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) administers the TANF program which provides eligible families with a monthly cash payment to meet their basic needs. The House and Senate restored funding so that a proposed 15 percent increase could apply to two-parent households in the statefunded TANF-UP program. This increase would go in to effect January 1, 2021. The 15 percent increase for other TANF households went into effect in July. 

–> Budget outcome: The budget restored $1.7 million in state funds to allow two-parents families to receive the 15 percent increase beginning January 1, 2021. 

 

Additional Support for Regional Food Banks  

The Federation of Virginia Food Banks is a state association of food banks affiliated with Feeding America. The Federation is working with seven regional food to ensure they can continue to provide food to those who need it.  

–> Budget outcome: The budget includes a total $7 million in CARES Act funds to provide $1 million to each of the seven regional food banks. 

 

Expansion of the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program  

The final budget includes a negotiation to improve on the eviction moratorium language included in the governor’s proposed budget. The revised language only allows for an eviction if a tenant refuses to cooperate with the landlord’s application to the Rent and Mortgage Relief Program through the end of the year. And it establishes a process to prevent evictions after January 1, 2021 that includes establishing payment plans and applying to the Rent and Mortgage Relief Program. Finally, it expands the use of the state-funded Housing Trust Fund to apply to the Rent and Mortgage Relief Fund once the federal CARES funds expire.   

–> Budget outcome: The final budget includes an additional $50 million in CARES to the Rent and Mortgage Relief Fund and an additional $55 million to the Housing Trust Fund.  

 

New Utility Disconnection Moratorium Funding and Process 

 The final budget includes the Governor’s proposal for a Utility Disconnection Moratorium. The pause on utility disconnections would apply to utility customers now through at least 60 days past the declared state of emergency or as public health or economic conditions improve. This action would create a repayment plan for customers of electric companiesnatural gas suppliers, electric and gas municipal utilities, water suppliers and wastewater service providers before these utilities could be shut off.  

–> Budget outcome: The appropriation in this item includes $100 million from the CARES Act to be used to help provide direct assistance to customers with accounts that are 30 days overdue. 

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