The U.S. Congress passed the Coronavirus Aids, Relief and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020 to provide relief to some Americans during the Coronavirus COVID-19 National Disaster. However, the promised economic relief from CARES will take weeks, even months, for millions of Americans to receive, if at all. Even with a freeze on payments offered by some debtholders, once this COVID-19 allows us to return to a sense of normalcy, those frozen months of bills will unthaw and be due immediately. If Americans have not been able to work in several months, they cannot be expected to take on this new debt.
Businesses are closed across the U.S., with nearly all of the states on mandatory shelter-in-place orders including Georgia. As of this writing, over 6.5 million Americans have filed for unemployment. Georgia has a minimum wage of $5.15, with the federal minimum wage of $7.25. A basic two-bedroom apartment in metro-Atlanta requires a minimum wage of $17 an hour. Many of our constituents in Georgia are working several jobs just to pay rent. For these workers — as well as small businesses, sole proprietors and independent contractors — one to three months of living expenses is just not saved for a rainy day.
It is true ‘we are all in this together’ as the U.S. national mantra proclaims right now. These are unprecedented times. While worried about staying healthy, a loss of income and bills coming due, Georgia constituents should have relief for rent, mortgages, car loans and utilities during the Coronavirus COVID-19 National Disaster.
On behalf of Georgia constituents, I am asking Governor Brian Kemp to immediately authorize a Georgia COVID-19 Debt Relief initiative through the existing Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency's Individuals and Households Program. This debt relief program will provide a maximum of $1,500 per month per qualified household for April, May and June 2020 to cover essential rent, mortgage, car note and utilities. The State of Georgia will make payments directly to the debtholders of qualified households.
The Existing Individuals and Household Program Available During a Disaster
The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency manages the federally-funded Individuals and Households Program during a disaster. Following is program information.
Following a large scale event, normally affecting multiple counties, the President may make a Federal Declaration of Major Disaster. Should a declaration providing for Individual Assistance be made, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Individuals and Households Program may provide up to $34,900 (amount updated annually on 1 Oct.) of assistance to qualified households.
The Individuals and Households Program has two components:
- • Housing Assistance, which provides for repairs to damaged homes
- • Other Needs Assistance, which provides for replacement of essential goods and services such as vehicles, essential appliances, and child care.
Source: Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency https://gema.georgia.gov/assistance/individual-assistance
This Program Can Be Authorized Nationally by the Governor in Each State
This initiative can be the National Coronavirus COVID-19 Debt Relief used in each state under their respective Emergency Management Agency. The maximum amount for qualified households would depend on the cost of living and average apartment rental in each respective state.
Proposed Georgia Coronavirus Debt Relief Details
The Georgia Coronavirus Debt Relief would work as part of the existing Individual and Household program of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.
Georgia Coronavirus Debt Relief
Covers: Rent | Mortgage | Car Note | Utilities
Maximum: $1,500 per month per household for April, May and June*
$30,000 or less - 100% (full $1,500) for eligible monthly debt relief
$30,001 - $55,000 – Maximum $1,125 for eligible monthly debt relief
All transactions will be made by the State of Georgia to qualified household's debtholders starting immediately.
Estimated COVID-19 Debt Relief Program Cost
The suggested monthly debt relief maximum of $1,500 for the initiative is based on the estimated number of Georgia households with median incomes of $0-$30,000 and $30,000-$55,000. The average apartment monthly rental for low-income and average-income households is $840 and $1,174 respectively.
A minimum budget of $9,000,000,000 would be needed to fund this debt relief initiative.
Who Is Eligible and What Would be the Process?
• Step 1: You must be a citizen or legal resident of Georgia.
• Step 2: You must have worked as of January 1, 2020 with proven lost of income due to COVID-19. (Must provide last two months proof of income.)
• Step 3: You must be head of household with each requested bill in your name.
• Step 4: Your rent (including extended hotel/motel stay), mortgage, car note, lights, gas, water, cell phone, and basic internet bill will be paid for three months for up to $1,500 per month. No fine print. Even if you were late on your bills before February 15, 2020, you are eligible for this program (current amount only).
• Step 5: All transactions will be made online directly to the debtholder (you must have an online account for each bill).
• Step 6: State of Georgia agents working from home will approve and process the transactions directly using computers and screen-share technology. There will be a pre-transaction process to ensure the online accounts of each qualified household are established, amount(s) approved and ready for the State of Georgia payment.
Available Remote Processing Staff Options
Qualified employees of the State of Georgia can work from home to process Coronavirus COVID-19 Debt Relief payments if they have customer service and data entry experience with a qualified computer, internet and a telephone.
The U.S. Census Bureau has accepted applications for field workers for months. Many of these applicants have been interviewed, positions offered, and background checks performed. Those applicants with customer service and data entry experience with a qualified computer, internet and a telephone can process the Coronavirus COVID-19 Debt Relief initiative AND ask each head of household if they have registered for the 2020 Census.
There are millions of small business owners, sole proprietors and independent contractors with excellent customer service and technology skills with a qualified computer, internet and a telephone who can also from home process Coronavirus COVID-19 Debt Relief payments.
Once Authorized, How Fast Can the Initiative Move Forward?
Qualification of households and the pre-transaction process for Coronavirus COVID-19 Debt Relief payments can start within 24-48 hours after Governor Kemp authorizes this initiative. Payments to debtholders can be made immediately starting in the month of April 2020 and continuing at least through June 30, 2020.
Governor Kemp Can Make This Happen Immediately through Executive Order
After Georgia’s disaster declaration by the U.S. president in March 2020, Governor Kemp signed an executive order that transferred $35,000,000 to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency from the Governor's Emergency Fund. A few days later, Governor Kemp signed an executive order that transferred $19,552,646 to the agency. Money is available to be transferred to this existing federally-funded agency to assist Georgia constituents.
Please Contact Governor Brian Kemp and Your Georgia Legislators
We the people must ask Governor Kemp and our elected Georgia State legislators to support this initiative – Georgia Coronavirus COVID-19 Debt Relief through the Individual and Household program of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency. Reach Governor Kemp and Georgia legislators by telephone, social media and their websites using the hashtag #COVID19DebtRelief. Here is the full Georgia Legislators contact list.
Sign the Petition and Share It
Please sign the Georgia Coronavirus COVID-19 Debt Relief Initiative petition and share it with everyone you know.