PRESS RELEASE: Rodriguez, Blanc Call for Extension of UI Benefits, Rent Assistance Amid COVID-19
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 29, 2020
PHOENIX— With the end of a federally funded $600-per-week unemployment boost this weekend, tens of thousands of out-of-work Arizonans are facing severe economic hardship, food insecurity and potential homelessness amid one of the nation's worst COVID-19 outbreaks. Representatives Diego Rodriguez and Isela Blanc today called on Gov. Ducey to at least temporarily extend and increase Arizona's second-lowest-in-the-nation $240 state benefit cap until Congress acts on a proposed new relief package. The pandemic has disproportionately impacted the Latino community which has suffered high rates of infection and whose members hold numerous essential jobs that do not allow for extended periods of sick leave, but all of Arizona would benefit from extended relief, the lawmakers said.
The lawmakers also called for increased and streamline rental assistance, which has had a frustratingly slow rollout despite available funds, and they renewed a call for Ducey to institute a statewide mask mandate to help bend the curve of infection and avoid the yo-yo effect that that pandemic has had in Arizona over the summer. According to the University of Arizona's Southwest Institute for Research on Women, without further state and/or federal action, homelessness in Arizona could rise by nearly 30 percent because of COVID-19.
"Unemployment benefits have been an economic boost and lifeline for our state and pulling the rug out now will be a disaster, especially for our hardest-hit Latino and indigenous communities," said Rodriguez, D-Phoenix. "Governor Ducey has the money through legislative appropriations from our billion-dollar rainy day fund and the federal CARES act to help Arizonans facing a dire situation. Stop hoarding money and show some leadership to help Arizonans avoid homelessness and economic ruin."
"This is not a time for more half-measures. Arizona families need help now, and our Governor has the tools to make a difference," said Blanc, D-Tempe. "Masks work. Unemployment benefits keep families and our economy afloat. Rental assistance prevents homelessness. Please, Governor, set aside politics and do what's right for Arizona."