11 States Stepping up to Supplement Unemployment Benefits

Congress has still not agreed on the next COVID-19 stimulus package. The House plans to keep the government through Dec. 18 to Congress more time to put together a relief plan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer support a bipartisan $908 million bill, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says “compromise is within reach.”

As talks of a second relief bill simmer on Capitol Hill, some states and cities are stepping up to offer support to their residents. A few states are using leftover federal money that was allocated to them from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March. Without an extension, states have to spend the money by Dec. 30. We’ve outlined some of the major relief options announced in 11 states — be sure to research your local options too.

States offering financial relief


Stimulus checkSmall business supportOther
Alaska
$20 million to small businesses
California (LA County)$800 to 4,000 food service workers$30,000 grants to restaurant owners
Colorado$375 to residents who have been financially impacted by COVID-19

Florida (Orange County)$1,000 to residents who have been financially impacted by COVID-19

Houston$1,200 to residents who have been financially impacted by COVID-19$10 million to small businesses$3 million for daycare operators, $3 million for music venues & musicians
Maryland
$50 million to restaurant relief$19 million in grants to 3,600 families to prevent evictions, $3 million for art programs
New Mexico$1,200 to unemployed workers$50,000 grants to small businesses$15 million to emergency housing assistance, $5 million to emergency food bank services
New York City
$35 million for no-interest small business loans
Ohio
$2,500 grants for bars and restaurants, $10,000 grants for small businesses$63 million to rural and critical access hospitals, $50 million to rent assistance, $100 million to higher education, $20 million for arts groups, $25 million for nonprofit organizations
Wisconsin
$45 million to small businesses and restaurants

Alaska

Alaskan Governor Mike Dunleavy dedicated $20 million from its CARES Act funding to help struggling businesses in Anchorage. The release of funds is in response to month-long business restrictions that took effect in late November and will seek to help those impacted businesses. The city of Anchorage will determine how funds are allocated. 

California

Los Angeles County plans to offer $30,000 grants to small restaurant owners, funded on a first-come, first-service basis. Restaurants must have higher than a C rating and can not have already received assistance from Los Angeles County Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act programs.

[ Read: Where to Find Financial Relief During the Covid-19 Pandemic ]

The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, also announced plans for a cash aid for food service workers employed by restaurants, food stands and breweries. The fund is called the Secure Emergency Relief for Vulnerable Employees (SERVE) and will offer a one-time $800 check to 4,000 food service workers. The application deadline is December 11.

Colorado

The state of Colorado is issuing $375 stimulus checks to all residents who have faced pandemic-related financial hardship. About 435,000 people will be eligible for the payments. Colorado residents who have received unemployment benefits between March and October and were eligible for a weekly jobless benefit between $25 and $500 are eligible for the new stimulus check. 

The plan is to provide aid to people who are earning less than $52,000 a year. Checks will be issued in December. People on unemployment don’t need to complete any forms to receive the funds. Those eligible will receive a phone call or an email from the state’s labor department.

Florida

If you live in Orange County, Florida, you may be eligible for a one-time $1,000 check. To be eligible, you must be an Orange County resident, have been financially impacted by COVID-19, have a social security card and photo ID and submit proof of income loss. 

The checks will come from an additional $30 million added by the Orange County government to the Individual and Family Assistance Program. If you’ve previously received money from this program, you aren’t eligible for the check. Those in need of aid must complete an online application form. Accepted applicants will receive the check through the mail. 

Houston

If you live in Houston, Texas, you can be eligible for a $1,200 check from a COVID-19 relief fund. Applicants are evaluated based on need, must provide evidence of financial hardship related to the pandemic, must be a Houston resident and earn 80% below the average income.

The organization tasked with distributing the city’s recovery funds, BakerRipley, started reaching out to eligible households on December 7. Those interested in learning more about the process can visit the local charity’s website. Houston also recently allocated a $3 million fund for daycare operators, another $3 million for music venues and musicians, and $10 million for small business relief. 

Maryland 

The governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, issued over $19 million in grants to prevent evictions to more than 3,600 families — distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Another $50 million will be dedicated to relief for restaurants, and you can apply with your local jurisdiction. An additional $100 million is dedicated to the Emergency Rapid Response Fund for Small Businesses to be deployed in areas based on need. The Maryland State Arts Council’s Emergency Grant Program received $3 million for art programs that have been canceled or modified. 

New Mexico 

Legislature in New Mexico approved a bipartisan bill for a $330 million COVID-relief package. The bill will give all unemployed workers a one-time $1,200 check, and some businesses will receive up to $50,000. 

For emergency housing assistance, $15 million has been allocated. Another $5 million will go to emergency food bank services and $5 million for low-income residents who did not receive a stimulus check from the federal government.

In this article

    New York City

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Jonnel Doris, the Department of Small Business Services Commissioner, have created a fund of $35 million for no-interest small business loans in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods.  

    Storefront businesses with fewer than 99 employees that have been impacted by COVID-19 can apply for a loan up to $100,000. Those eligible to apply will also need to upload an application authorizing the state partner lender to pull your credit. 

    Ohio

    Mike DeWine, the Governor of Ohio, has pushed a $420 million pandemic spending package that will offer grants to small businesses, low-income renters, arts groups, colleges, bars and restaurants. 

    [ Read: How Unemployment Works And What You Need to Get Benefits ]

    The package is broken down for each category. For example, bars and restaurants can apply for $2,500 grants and are eligible if they hold a liquor license. While $10,000 grants are available for small businesses if they have between one and 25 employees. Rural and critical access hospitals will receive $63 million, $50 million will be allocated to rent assistance (administered by the DSA through various Community Action Agencies), $100 million to higher education, $20 million for arts groups and $25 million for nonprofit organizations.

    Wisconsin

    Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers recently announced that small businesses and restaurants that have been impacted by the pandemic will receive $45 million in assistance, with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and administered by the Department of Revenue (DOR). Businesses do not have to apply but will be chosen by the DOR based on state tax records, and an annual revenue between $1 million and $7 million. Previous grant programs in Wisconsin have been focused on small businesses with less than $1 million in annual revenue.

    (In progress) Minnesota

    Both Minnesota Republicans in the state House and Governor Tim Walz have issued proposals to offer small business relief. State House Democrats have proposed an emergency stimulus payment for families in the Minnesota Family Investment Program. Walz also proposed a one-time $500 payment to families and a 13-week extension on unemployment benefits. Lawmakers are still debating the specifics of a relief package for Minnesota but are hopeful after the state’s forecasted budget update projected a surplus.

    We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

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    Danika Miller

    Personal Finance Reporter

    Danika Miller is a personal finance reporter at The Simple Dollar who specializes in banking, savings, budgeting, home insurance, and auto insurance. Her reporting has also been featured at CreditCards.com, Reviews.com, and elsewhere.

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    • Andrea Perez
      Andrea Perez
      Personal Finance Editor

      Andrea Perez is an editor at The Simple Dollar who leads our news and opinion coverage. She specializes in financial policy, banking, and investing.