Editorial: Federal stimulus aim is to help the needy, not enrich the greedy
Tuesday, April 21, 2020 -- The federal stimulus payments to families are meant to help wage-earners live - not provide relief to big financial institutions, commercial lenders and debt collection agencies. Our federal, state and local officials need to act to make sure - while we're in the middle of this crisis - no one is forced from their home, goes hungry or lacks needed health care for inability to pay.Posted — Updated
Who should decide how the stimulus check that’s (we hope) arrived in your checking account?
There are lots of folks with lots of ideas. Most basically, the hope is that families in need will spend the $1,200 per adult on making sure, as far as it will go, the basics of life are taken care of – shelter, food and health. There’s plenty of advice for those who may be in a position to share some of their stimulus check with organizations that help those in need.
The $3,400 a family of four might receive is critical. There’s a good chance that money has quickly dried up with breadwinners, through no fault of their own, out of work. Unemployment benefits may not have started yet. Living paycheck-to-paycheck just a few weeks ago was fine. Now there’s a crisis.
Our federal, state and local officials need to act to make sure – while we’re in the middle of this crisis – no one is forced from their home, goes hungry or lacks needed health care for inability to pay.
Our state Supreme Court has acted appropriately with a temporary suspension of foreclosure and eviction proceedings.
The attorney general’s office has said it won’t impose collections on debts owed to the state while in the midst of the current state of emergency. “I want folks to focus on feeding their families,” Attorney General Stein said in an interview Monday. “They’ll still owe the money and we expect payment. It’s a matter of timing and now is not the time.”
Many businesses are stepping up. Utilities like Duke Energy have said they won’t suspend anyone’s service during the crisis for lack of payment. Gov. Roy Cooper’s also issued an executive order to prevent disconnection of electric, gas, water and wastewater services through May.
But there is more that must be done to protect families from financial ruin.
Further, lawmakers, lenders, landlords and others need to have policies and procedures in place so when the emergency subsides and temporary moratoriums are lifted, they are not followed by a tsunami of evictions and foreclosures in our courts. Rents shouldn't be increased for a set period, mortgage payments should be spread out, for example.
Patience not pressure, clear procedure not arbitrary seizure. Now is the time to provide a path helping consumers and creditors navigate our recovery so all North Carolinians have an opportunity for a return to normalcy and move ahead.
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