These packages might help folks after their unemployment advantages have expired

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Hundreds of unemployed Kentucky residents wait in long lines outside the Kentucky Career Center for help with their unemployment claims on June 19, 2020 in Frankfort, Kentucky. While the economic recovery has created jobs again since the lowest point of the Covid-19 crisis, millions of Americans remain unemployed.

John Sommers II

The US is weeks away from a major cliff in Covid – two unemployment programs, an eviction moratorium and an extended paid sick leave from the CARES Act expire at the end of December.

According to an analysis by the Century Foundation, around 12 million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits in December, meaning that if the coronavirus pandemic persists, more than 16 million will be available with little to no help by 2021.

At the same time, Congress is still debating more coronavirus relief and continues to split over topics like another round of stimulus checks and additional unemployment benefits.

While there is a possibility that law will be passed soon, Americans should prepare for a loophole in aid, said Elizabeth Pancotti, senior policy advisor at Employ America, a progressive think tank.

“It’s very scary telling people to prepare for this scenario,” she said. “It’s a worst case scenario, but it’s still very possible.”

In the meantime, some states have put in place measures to help residents. And there are some federal programs that will still be available after the year ends to help those struggling with bills, groceries, and housing.

Benefit programs still available

SNAP

The food benefits provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will continue into the next year and the emergency grants will be increased.

“The SNAP benefits continue, they are a claim. This is a rare thing in the safety nets world these days,” said Elaine Waxman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Center for Income and Achievement Policy. Still, the higher amounts will eventually run out without further funding, she said.

While SNAP does have eligibility rules, it does not have work requirements to get help, which means that unemployed people may be able to receive benefits. People can apply for SNAP through the state they live in.

TANF

Families with children or other loved ones living at home may be eligible for Temporary Assistance for Families in Need (TANF), which includes financial and other assistance.

According to Pancotti, there are also approval requirements for TANF, which can vary by state. For example, TANF includes a work requirement by law, although some states overlook it due to Covid. People should also apply for TANF at the state level.

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Home help

Both a foreclosure and an eviction moratorium expire at the end of the year and remove the important protection of homes for millions.

Homeowners experiencing pandemic-related financial difficulties with federal or GSE-backed loans can request mortgage forbearance from their lender for up to 180 days. The application deadline is December 31st. Forbearance, no additional fees, penalties, or interest over and above the planned amounts will be added.

Many tenants will find themselves in a precarious position when the federal eviction moratorium expires. Some states have their own eviction moratoriums that may help some.

Others may be able to apply for rent assistance through local programs like the Salvation Army. People in need of rental or housing assistance should turn to these programs as soon as possible as there are few, said Pancotti of Employ America.

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