Congress is set to pass a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill that includes $600 direct payments to individuals making less than $75,000 a year, along with another round of PPP for small businesses.
Why it matters in Charlotte: The bill injects money in several struggling areas that are of special interest in Charlotte and the surrounding region right now, including:
- $25 billion in rental assistance for people who need help with everything from back rent to overdue utility payments. The federal government will disperse the money to the states, then tenants will be able to apply through local or state organizations.
- An extension of the eviction moratorium through January 31. It had been set to expire January 1. I’ve talked to several housing advocates who work with Charlotte’s homeless population in the past week, and this was the top concern for all heading into the holidays.
- $13 billion in SNAP and child nutrition benefits, which is no doubt welcome news to the people Katie talked to for her Sunday story on the city’s growing hunger crisis.
Between the lines: Among those most relieved are people who work in live music. The bill includes $15 billion for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.
- It’s been a brutal year for these venues, who have been “in the emergency room,” since March, Neighborhood Theatre owner Gregg McCraw told me earlier this year. Many took to crowdsourcing campaigns to limp along, and MusicEverywhereCLT has spun up several creative initiatives ways to bring them income.
- Now true relief may be here soon, and that is, “a beautiful sight to be seen,” Evening Muse owner Joe Kuhlmann posted on Facebook. “Hug ’em all, Christmas came early.”
Yes, but: The bill doesn’t include federal recognition for the Lumbee Tribe. Based in Robeson County, the largest tribe east of the Mississippi has been aching for the recognition for more than a century. And with Congressman Dan Bishop pushing for it, and support from both President Trump and President-elect Joe Biden, it seemed like this was the year. But it isn’t.
- “It is with a heavy heart that I inform you we have not been successful,” tribal chairman Harvey Godwin Jr. wrote, adding, “I can assure you this is not the final word on Lumbee Recognition.”