Demand for help continues as enhanced federal unemployment benefits set to expire

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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – Extra federal unemployment benefits will stop for millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Today is the last day they would see the extra $600 a week added to their regular checks. But the need for help in the Tri-State is still growing.

The enhanced benefits, part of the CARES Act passed earlier this year, were designed to help those pay bills during the pandemic. As they officially expire, local groups say the requests for help haven’t gone away.

“We’re seeing an increase in requests, especially with rent and utilities are concerned, and obviously food assistance,” said Richard Remp-Morris, C.E.O. Of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Owensboro. He says they’re at 35% above capacity in number of people looking for help paying rent and other bills. He says the mood of their clients varies as the deadline approaches.

“Some of our neighbors have been locked in this for three months. They really are feeling the stress,” he said.

House Democrats pressure Senate GOP to extend COVID-19 $600 unemployment payments

But the House and Senate have not agreed on future unemployment payments. Republican lawmakers propose cutting enhanced payments from $600 to $200 dollars a week, while Democrats want to keep it at current level. Remp-Morris says clients depend that enhanced payments to keep their lights on.

“It’s huge, especially for our neighbors in need that are anywhere between that 8, 9, 10 dollars an hour. That’s huge to be able to pay your rent, to keep the lights on Yes, that’s huge and we are hoping that another stimulus package will come,” he said.

Remp-Morris adds they got about $100,000 in grants to help people pay certain bills, but that money is almost running out.

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(This story was originally published on July 31, 2020) 

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