By Alejandro Ambriz
As COVID-19 has become more of a concern in the past weeks, there has been an unprecedented amount of money being used by the U.S. to help stabilize the economy. Most recently, the $2 trillion dollar stimulus package that was approved by the Senate on Wednesday. The package, which includes $300 billion set aside for direct payments to individuals and families, is nowhere near enough to alleviate the economic burden people are going through. The bill also excludes undocumented people and most college students from benefiting from the stimulus package.
According to CNN,”Individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400– and and additional $500 per child.” People are expected to receive the money through a relief check or direct deposit within the next three weeks, according to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. In order to receive the aid, people must have a social security number and their most recent tax return will be used to determine eligibility. This leaves out undocumented people and others who lack the resources to file taxes every year out of the aid. Undocumented people pay a lot of taxes, approximately $11.7 billion in state and local taxes according to a 2014 report by the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy.
This bill cuts off access to thousands of students in the surrounding community alone. Veronica Leyton, a student at ELAC, believes the money should be accessible to everyone. “…taxpayers should benefit from their investment into the infrastructure, especially in times like these. All taxpayers should receive monetary aid, regardless of legal status.”
The stimulus package also excludes people who can be claimed as a dependent on tax returns. This group consists of most college students as well as disabled and elderly people. Combined with the undocumented community, this group consists of 21 million people, according to Tax Policy Center. In the past weeks, the government has seemingly pulled hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air for the stock market and now this deal includes $500 billion in loans for big corporations and industries. $500 billion far exceeds the $300 billion set aside for the people and even then, a lot of people are excluded.
Some people are still able to work because they are an essential business, but others have been laid off for weeks. The inability to work and lack of revenue has people financially stressed with an ongoing pandemic. Leyton is relieved that her parents will at least receive some part of the aid even though they are not likely to receive the extra $500 for her, nor will she receive any part of the aid. “This aid will help my family in the case that my father is one of those people whose place of work becomes closed or they fire personnel…my father is still working, we’re just preparing for the worst since so many are losing their jobs.”
Job instability is even more stressful when people have to pay rent every month. The average rent for an apartment in East Los Angeles is $1,771 and $1,984 in Monterey Park, according to RENTCafe. Even with the temporary ban on evictions and rent freeze passed by Mayor Erick Garcetti, a lot of families were struggling to get by as it were.
Tenants will have up to a year after the emergency order to pay their rent, according to a Los Angeles Times article. The same article states that the L.A. city council rejected a blanket ban on all evictions during the pandemic and that back rent must still be paid. Even after the pandemic ends, many people will not be financially stable for months or even a year, let alone pay months of rent they could barely afford. Certainly not with a one time payment of $1,200 to individuals and families who qualify.