In January 2021, the California state government and the new administration in Washington made key relief provisions. These provisions are in addition to the $900 billion pandemic bill passed by Congress in December. Here, we break down what that relief bill and new provisions mean for you and your household. For quick reading, we’ve highlighted the key highlights of each provision.

Stimulus payments

The government has sent $600 stimulus payments to those who qualify, plus $600 per eligible child. Eligibility was generally based on your adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2019. Those who made $75,000 or less typically received the full $600.

Payments started phasing out for individuals whose 2019 AGI exceeds $75,000 (or $112,500 if you filed as head-of-household). For married couples filing jointly, payments start phasing out when combined income exceeds $150,000 for 2019. For individuals without children, the payments go to zero when income reaches $87,000 (or $174,000 for married couples).

The IRS has already sent payments to most people. For more information on eligibility or your payment status, check out Get My Payment from the IRS.

Eligible people (based on 2019 income) received a $600 stimulus payment, plus $600 per eligible child, likely in January. If you’re eligible for a payment, you don’t need to do anything.

 

Unemployment benefits

People receiving state unemployment benefits will get an extra $300 weekly for 11 weeks, from the end of December 2020 through March 14, 2021.

The latest bill also extends two other pandemic unemployment programs originally set to expire around Christmas: the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program expands jobless benefits to gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors, the self-employed and certain other people affected by the coronavirus. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program provides an additional 13 weeks of payments to those who exhaust their regular state benefits.

Both programs would close to new applicants on March 14, 2021, but benefits will continue through April 5, 2021 for existing claimants who have not yet reached the maximum of 50 weeks of unemployment benefits.

People receiving state unemployment benefits will receive an extra $300 weekly until March 14, 2021, and unemployment benefit provisions for the self-employed (gig workers, freelancers and independent contractors) will be extended.

 

Small business loans

The bill reopens the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) so that some of the hardest-hit small businesses can apply for another loan. PPP stopped taking applications for the first round of loans in August.

These additional loans are available only to small businesses with fewer than 300 employees that have seen drops of at least 25% of their revenue during the first, second or third quarter of 2020. Each borrower can receive up to $2 million, and businesses now have more flexibility on how they spend the money. The forgiveness process for loans under $150,000 has been simplified as well. More nonprofits are also eligible for this round of loans.

PPP is back for businesses with fewer than 300 employees that have had a revenue drop of 25% or more. Loans are limited to $2 million, and businesses now have more flexibility in how to spend the money.

 

Housing assistance

The California government has frozen evictions for struggling tenants impacted by COVID-19 through June 30, 2021. This provision protects tenants as long as they’re paying a total 25% of their rent starting in September 2020, and can prove pandemic-related adversity like job or salary loss.

Federal funds will also be used to help pay the back rent of eligible Californians, and will typically be allocated to households whose income is 80% or less of their area's median income (prioritized for households at 50% or less) and Californians who have been unemployed for at least three months. For eligible tenants, the state will cover up to 80% of the rent missed between April 2020 and March 2021, as long as the landlord forgives the remaining 20% and does not pursue evictions. 

Tenants and landlords will be able to apply for this aid through state or local relief organizations. How quickly the assistance becomes available will be dependent on where you live. To find out what’s available in your area, visit the government website for your city or county. The State Rental Assistance Program will begin accepting applications from property owners and tenants in March 2021. 

Nationally, the federal government has extended the ban on COVID-19-related evictions through March 31, 2021. The executive order also extends the foreclosure moratorium on government-backed mortgages, including those backed by the USDA, VA, and HUD.

 California's eviction protection has been extended through June 30, 2021 as long as the eviction would be related to COVID-19 hardships, while the federal eviction protection has been extended to March 31, 2021. The federal government has provided funds to California for rental assistance – check out the website for your city government or county government to learn about what relief is available in your local area and how to apply. 

 

Student loans

Payments on direct federal loans have been postponed through September 30, 2021. Monthly payments do not have to be made, and any interest will be waived. To see if your loan is eligible under this new break, check out our guide to which student loans qualify.

The pause on student loan repayments has been extended – and federal student loans will only start accruing interest again on October 1, 2021 along with payments coming due.

 

We’re here to help

We’re also here to talk one-on-one, confidentially and at no cost – about your stimulus check or any other financial concerns. Visit patelco.org/ContactUs to talk to us.