Coons joins push to ensure stimulus payments reach Americans experiencing homelessness
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, joined Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minnesota, and 27 of their Senate colleagues in a Feb. 5 letter calling on the Department of the Treasury to ensure Americans receive the relief they are entitled to, including those who are experiencing homelessness.
The bipartisan COVID-19 relief package enacted into law Dec. 27 of last year provided a round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult, and efforts are currently underway to provide additional direct payments in future relief legislation. Coons, Smith and their colleagues want to make sure the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service commit to conducting outreach to all populations to make sure Americans are aware of their potential eligibility and can sign up for and receive the payments.
Coons is renewing this effort after he joined his colleagues in a similar letter to the Trump administration last spring urging the administration to take the necessary steps to ensure people experiencing homelessness received the stimulus payments provided under the federal Coronavirus relief act. Unfortunately, as the IRS reported in September, approximately 9 million nonfilers had yet to claim their direct payments nearly six months after the CARES Act was enacted into law.
“People experiencing homelessness have been disproportionately impacted by the negative health effects of COVID-19 and the unprecedented economic crisis that has followed,” the senators wrote. “Overcrowding in shelters, the lack of basic hygiene and sanitation in outdoor encampments, and barriers to accessing health care and economic opportunities are added challenges that people experiencing homelessness have faced over the past nine months. While it is clear that we all must do more to provide safe, stable housing for these individuals, we also must ensure that these communities are not left behind as the Treasury Department distributes economic relief payments.”
In addition, the senators are urging the Treasury Department to publish specific procedures for how those without a permanent address, government issued identification or bank account can access their payment; expand guidance for non-filers and provide additional options for people to claim their payments, as many people experiencing homelessness have limited or no access to internet, and a website where non-filers can register is insufficient; and work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to conduct outreach to local Continuums of Care and social service organizations.
The full text of the letter is available at bit.ly/3cM1ScS.