As Congress nears stimulus package, some Americans wonder how far $600 will go

US Politics

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — While some Americans say $600 is something, and better than nothing, in Southern California and many parts of the country, that money will not go far.

In Los Angeles, some are indicating that temporary help will merely ease a little bit of short-term pain.

Stephanie, a struggling mother of three, waited Monday at the World Harvest Food Bank in L.A. She said she was eager for a second stimulus check since her income from working has dried up. But $600 won’t cover her rent.

“I don’t want to speak negatively about it because I am grateful,” she said. “But I think that we all should get more. We’ve been waiting for months and months and months.”

Nine months since the first stimulus package, the Treasury Department is indicating a second round of payments will start next week with $600 for those making less than $75,000 with an additional $600 per dependent child.

The amount is half of what was in the first round back in March and many household situations have only deteriorated since then. 

“I think the Grinch is stealing the Christmas of a lot of children across our nation,” said Rep. Norma Torres, D-CA. “I think $600 is barely enough for a family of five to go to Costco and buy the bare necessities to survive.”

However, some lawmakers see it differently.

“People love to focus on the $600 stimulus check but the reality is, it’s just one prong of a relatively aggressive plan,” said Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D. “If you’re unemployed there’s assistance for you, if you have a job with a small business the paycheck protection program should help you like it helped 40 million Americans in the first round.”

The latest package also includes an additional $300 a week through March 14 for those collecting unemployment. In addition, it addresses paid sick leave and mortgage forbearance.But it’s the stimulus cash that’s timely for those still struggling to tap unemployment.

Ken Roady, who was at a food bank in Texas, agrees.

“The gas, and the groceries, and like just little things for my daughters… even $5 is extremely helpful to me to tell you the truth,” said Roady.

According to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, food insecurity has doubled in the past year, so pantries are serving more people than ever.

In L.A., the World Harvest Food Bank is even fielding requests from the East Coast. 

“We get calls from people in different states, really honestly, I’ve had calls from someone in Florida asking ‘Hey, we need food,’” said Grace Rodriguez of the World Harvest Food Bank.

Perhaps most helpful immediately is the extension of a renter eviction ban.

The agreement pushes a moratorium out to Jan. 31 — providing another month for more than 14 million households that are behind on rent and facing possible eviction in less than two weeks.

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