Many CA Families Face Ruin; Senate Urged to Act

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Advocates say 1 in 4 California households is housing insecure, meaning they are not certain they can pay the rent or mortgage next month. Photo Credit: Dodgerton Skillhause

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California families of color are bearing the brunt of the pandemic while also working many of the jobs essential to the economy, so advocates are urging the U.S. Senate to make sure their basic needs are met.

The House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act in May, but the Senate has yet to act on the legislation. Gabriella Barbosa, policy director at The Children’s Partnership, said without help, many families face irreparable harm to their health and well-being.

“So we really want Congress to include supports around food, housing, access to health care and income supports in the next iteration of federal legislation around the pandemic,” Barbosa said.

Advocates want legislators to approve $1,200 a month in cash relief to families, including immigrants and mixed-status families. They’re also calling for $100 billion in emergency rental assistance and a 14% increase in the amount the feds pay states in Medicaid matching funds.

Deborah Weinstein is executive director of the nonprofit Coalition on Human Needs. She said Congress needs to take bold action before federal unemployment benefits and the eviction moratorium run out.

“We have not experienced anything like this for 100 years. We’ve got a stubborn disease that is keeping our economy from functioning the way it should,” Weinstein said. “We cannot let our families suffer in this way. The consequences to children are so grave.”

Weinstein also is calling for $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments in order to stave off huge cuts in Medi-Cal, education and social services. Senate Republicans are in favor of a relief bill that would provide direct stimulus payments to Americans and relief for businesses.