2nd stimulus should come before January, UH professor says

SPRING, Texas (KTRK) -- A University of Houston professor who signed a letter urging a second stimulus check said it needs to arrive before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office in January.

The pandemic continues to hurt families across the country. On Wednesday, about 70 families received a boost from Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office.

For nearly 20 years, deputies have loaded patrol vehicles and delivered boxes full of Thanksgiving fixings to families in need.

"I'm speechless to be honest, but I'm very thankful," said Darice Harris after receiving a meal.

These families need more than a Thanksgiving meal. Due to the pandemic, they've lost their jobs and need help to pay rent and other bills.

"It's been rough," Constance Joseph said. "A single mom. It just came out of nowhere."

For Christmas, they'd love a second stimulus check. "It would mean a lot because it would definitely help," Coya Smith said. "Right now, I'm unemployed, so it would definitely help."

This week, the Economic Security Project sent a letter to lawmakers, signed by more than 125 economists, urging lawmakers to pass a second stimulus.

University of Houston professor Dietrich Vollrath is one of the economists who signed the letter.

"I signed onto the letter regarding another round of direct payments, not because I think that's the single best policy, but I'd rather see that than nothing," Vollrath explained.

A second stimulus check would cost billions, but Vollrath said it's worth it to help families climb out of debt, and to help stimulate the economy when the vaccine arrives.

"The argument for it is much cheaper to us as a federal government to take on that debt because the federal government is paying close to 0% interest rates," Vollrath explained.

Right now, lawmakers are on Thanksgiving break, but they plan to return after the holiday for three weeks before Christmas.

Vollrath said it's imperative that they figure out a stimulus bill before the end of the year, before eviction and before unemployment help ends.

"If we get into January, we're going to miss a lot of families," Vollrath explained. "They're going to be kicked out of their houses. They're going to be struggling to feed themselves."

If a second stimulus check doesn't arrive, the United Way in Houston said there are several options for struggling families.

To get help, call 211, or contact the agencies below:

Area Agency on Aging - Harris County
  • Provides limited rent and utility assistance to adults 60+ who have had negative financial impacts from COVID-19. Financial assistance is in direct payment to vendors to avoid disconnection of utilities and to promote housing stability. Call center: 832-393-430.


Reliant CARE - Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
  • Provides limited assistance for rent, mortgage and utility assistance, gas cards, and case management. All requests for assistance need to go through their website.


Christian Community Services
  • Rental assistance for those facing crisis due to COVID-19. Provides one-time assistance in a 12-month period.


Harris County Community Services Department
  • Provides emergency rent, mortgage and utility payment assistance for people in specific parts of Harris County that were impacted by COVID-19. Open to anyone in unincorporated parts of Harris County.


Northwest Assistance Ministries
  • Offers emergency assistance to families in crisis who live within the zip code service area. Assistance may include food, financial assistance with rent and mortgage and utilities. Request line: 713-686-1577.


Rental Assistance -- BakerRipley
  • Provides distribution of rental assistance funds from private donors and CARES funds for those dealing with hardship due to COVID-19 crisis. Applications are online only.


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