Jun 28, 2023 - News

Denver considers issuing COVID checks

Illustration of a bag of groceries and money.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Denver residents who were ineligible to receive federal public benefits like unemployment checks during the pandemic could get a one-time cash transfer from the city.

Driving the news: The city council is set to hear a proposal Wednesday to use $3 million in federal pandemic aid money for one-time, direct cash assistance for families directly impacted by COVID-19.

  • People ineligible for benefits like COVID stimulus checks included undocumented people and mixed-status households.

Why it matters: The city hopes the money will help families meet basic needs like housing, food, utilities, childcare or other bills.

Details: The program would provide money to heads of households who were ineligible for federally unfunded benefits and with at least one child 17 years of age or under.

  • The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs wants to hire Impact Charitable, a nonprofit organization, to distribute the money.

By the numbers: The program would provide a $1,000 payment, with some people eligible for an additional $500 based on additional factors, including an inability to meet basic household needs.

  • The city estimates there are between 1,800-2,200 people who would be eligible to receive the money, with most living in qualified census tracts — meaning lower-income households.
  • Many eligible residents live outside the inverted-L, the area home to a higher percentage of Black and brown residents and working-class families, according to city documents.

What they're saying: "This program aims to reduce the financial instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, improve financial security, and support families in meeting basic needs required to thrive," city Human Rights & Community Partnerships spokesperson Heidi Rodriguez told us in a statement.

  • The city's immigrant and refugee affairs office is housed inside the HRCP.

The intrigue: The proposal is similar to the Denver Basic Income Project, a novel strategy giving direct cash assistance using public money to people experiencing homelessness that the city began funding last year.

  • The city chipped in $2 million in federal pandemic aid money toward the project.

Yes, but: The basic income project is a continuous, 12-month initiative, unlike the one-time payment now under consideration.

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