COVID-19 stimulus: Where is it?  Who gets it?

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

COVID-19 stimulus: Where is it?  Who gets it?This week, residents reported that their stimulus checks — for up to $1,200 per eligible adult and $500 per eligible child — began arriving in the mail.

Meanwhile, small business owners say that they are still awaiting their share of the $2 trillion COVID-19 package passed by congress. But even though payments have not yet arrived, elected officials report that money will run out by this week.

Kern County business owners and other employers were able to gain some clarity, however, on a recent call hosted by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and representatives of the Small Business Administration.

“I think the best news that came out of that call is that the emergency relief, which has been referred to as a loan so far, will essentially become a grant,” said Tim Smith, executive director of the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce.

There are two forms of funding for businesses with fewer than $10,000. The first is categorized as emergency impact aid and can be used for payroll, rent or utilities. The Payroll Protection Program can provide up to eight weeks of funding to help employers keep from laying off their workers during the economic downturn.

“One thing to keep in mind is that loans are not retroactive,” said Smith. “The program begins when your specific loan application is approved.”

To date, more than one million loans have been issued across the country. McCarthy said that congress is asking for $250 million more now that the money is beginning to run out.

“At the local level, I know there are some concerns from people who were not already doing businesses with the lending institutions,” said Smith. “There was another question about people who bank with Wells Fargo, which is no longer taking applications. Where do those people go for help?”

Local banks and credit unions are reportedly seeing a high level of requests for these loans. Individuals have been encouraged to reach out to more than one institution for assistance. But it is not clear whether additional loans will be approved locally without an additional appropriation from congress.

The commercial sector is not the only segment feeling distress. Mental health care providers are reporting that their services do not qualify for the support offered to hospitals, but the demand for mental health resources continues to grow.

The interpretation for eligibility among faith-based organizations for financial support originally required the provision of a service — such as child care, education or food service.

Now these organizations can apply for loans, so long as they are used to assist with payroll, rent or utilities.

While it remains unknown when funds for PPP will become available, accountants are recommending that individuals in a hurry to receive their one-time cash payments file their direct-deposit information with the Internal Revenue Service. Otherwise, checks could potentially be delayed for months. At press time, residents had reportedly begun to receive stimulus checks.

Story First Published: 2020-04-17