By Linda Taylor
We are in the midst of an economic crisis. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the lives of working families and small business owners have been completely upended– with workers being laid off and proud businesses forced to close up shop. Consequently, many families are struggling to make ends meet, barely keeping their lights on, and wondering where their next meal will come from. They are losing hope.
We know this is not a new crisis. At Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, our clients were facing financial insecurity long before this pandemic. However, inequality has worsened as a result and community-based organizations, especially those that provide financial and grocery assistance, are feeling the added strain as they work overtime to assist meet the needs of the community.
When considering the many possible solutions for helping working families recover, one imperative option comes to mind. Providing flexible and direct financial support to families through a state-level Recovery Rebate in Washington State is critical. Families need cash in their hands in order to stand a chance at having their basic needs met. We’ve seen evidence of this in an analysis of the first federal stimulus payment which explained that the majority of families with less than $500 in savings spent nearly half of their payment on essential needs within the first 10 days.
Direct cash assistance gives people the ability to spend the money on what they really need. With the extra cash, they can buy school supplies for their children, pay for utilities, improve their credit score or establish emergency savings. Small business owners can purchase supplies and resources to ensure a safe re-opening.
This rebate is especially critical for those farthest from recovery, including undocumented and domestic workers. They did not receive funds from the federal stimulus package. Working people who are undocumented but pay taxes or people who do important unpaid work (like caretakers) need support to be able to recover for their families.
It is time for Washington state to prioritize investing in the economic stability for working families. Lawmakers must prioritize a broad cash stimulus plan, with both an immediate Recovery Rebate and a long-term annual rebate. During this unprecedented time, we must be innovative in our approach to ensuring the needs of our community are met. This calls for a bold state-level approach to a vital issue. Our community needs direct cash assistance in the form of a Recovery Rebate program. In this critical time, we cannot make cuts in the state budget. We need to invest in our people.
The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle is a part of a broad coalition of more than 30 regional and statewide organizations advocating to enact this Recovery Rebate. We know that direct cash assistance works. When people have additional cash, it changes the conversations we can have about financial empowerment and budgeting. Providing a Recovery Rebate would give families hope and impact their financial future for the better.
Linda Taylor is the Vice President of Housing and Financial Empowerment of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, a nonprofit with 90 years of activism and community experience in the heart of Seattle’s most diverse neighborhood, the Central District. The Urban League empowers African Americans and underserved communities to thrive by securing educational and economic opportunities. To find out more visit www.urbanleague.org.