California has been approved for a FEMA grant that could supplement state unemployment wages for at least a few weeks.
FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor has approved California for a grant under the Lost Wages Assistance program. The grant funding will allow California to provide $300 per week — on top of their regular unemployment benefit — to those unemployed because of COVID-19.
FEMA will work with California Governor Gavin Newsom to implement a system to make this funding available to California residents. How soon that system can be in place and money delivered to those who need it remains to be seen.
The FEMA funds are being used in place of a Congressional appropriation. Republicans and Democrats are split on how much of an additional economic stimulus they wish to provide to the unemployed, with a gap of at least a trillion dollars standing in the way. The FEMA funds are seen as a stopgap until that logjam is resolved. The FEMA funding is likely one available for four to five weeks by most estimates, meaning Congress needs to arrive at a compromise to continue the boost.
States had until Sept. 10 to apply for the FEMA funds. President Trump made available up to $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund on Aug. 8 to provide financial assistance to Americans who have lost wages due to the COV ID-19 pandemic.
So far, South Dakota is the only state that has said it will not take federal funds. As of Thursday, only one state, Arizona, had started paying out to its unemployed using federal funds.
As of today, funds have been approved for 15 states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.
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