While the stimulus package Congress passed in March expanded unemployment benefits, state offices have been overwhelmed by an unprecedented flood of jobless claims and many families have seen little or no relief. Meanwhile, others say the weekly checks, which are slated to be reduced in July, aren't enough to protect them from this recession's financial blow.
It's unclear if another round of stimulus checks will evolve from something debated in Washington to a lifeline in people's bank accounts. President Donald Trump recently said "We'll be asking for additional stimulus money," but several Republican legislators have shot down the idea, and even some Senate Democrats question the strategy.
In a recent CNBC story on the back-and-forth in Washington, I invited readers to email me about if and why they needed a second round of stimulus checks. More than 100 emails filled my inbox.
Here are some of their stories.
When Virginia Hodge's landlord threatened to evict her and her four children from their rental house in Newark, Ohio, in April, she responded with an image of her bank account balance: – $22.
"I told her I'd pay it as soon as I got my unemployment," Hodge, 44, said. Soon, the weekly benefits arrived, as did Hodge's $1,200 stimulus check and payments for her children.
But that money went to catching up on bills, including rent and utilities, because Hodge hadn't received a paycheck since March, when she was furloughed from her job at a laundry service. She also had to buy her son a new pair of sneakers after he outgrew his old ones.
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She's already behind again.
To save money, she's started to feed her children — all home from school during the pandemic — two meals a day instead of three. "We eat breakfast later in the day so that we don't have to eat lunch," she said.
With another round of stimulus checks, she said, she could afford more food and get caught up on bills again.
"It'll make sure everything is OK for a few more months," Hodge said.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Thomas McKay and his girlfriend were working at a winery in Paso Robles, California. While he was kept on staff, his girlfriend was furloughed in April.
It was hard to keep up with their bills with one income. His girlfriend applied for unemployment benefits, to no avail.
"They just never responded to anything," McKay, 30, said. "She totally hit a wall."
Before long, he said, "I was pulling everything out of our savings account." They had around $7,000 in the bank, most of which is now gone.
His girlfriend returned to work recently, but much fewer people are visiting the winery these days. Tips have dried up.
In the meantime, McKay has fallen into more debt. Another stimulus check, he said, would help them climb out of that hole a little.
"It would give a boost of confidence to me that our government is actually looking out for us, and not just businesses," McKay said.
At the end of May, Jason Sanchez was furloughed from the company where he worked providing health and wellness services to employees. He had worked there for over two years.
Earlier in the pandemic, his girlfriend was laid off from her job as a teacher.
Sanchez is receiving unemployment, but said his girlfriend's checks were late to arrive and that she's still missing payments.
"It's been a nightmare," Sanchez, 32, said of her application process. "We've just been sitting back, not knowing when the money is going to come in."
They don't have any savings, and worry about meeting the $2,800 rent on their apartment in San Mateo, California.
"If they don't extend the $600 [unemployment checks] or if we don't get another stimulus check, August will be the last month we can pay rent," Sanchez said.
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