HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- President Donald Trump signed the COVID-19 relief bill, but it's unclear when Texans will receive the money.
The COVID-19 relief bill signing was the Christmas gift Houstonian Ryan Reynolds was waiting for.
"I probably would've run out of money to pay my rent," Reynolds said. "My lease is up in January. I probably would've had to move back home to Arkansas, or move in with a friend, and live on their couch for a little while. I really don't know what would've happened."
The Houston man has been out of work in the oil industry for seven months. His unemployment benefits were set to expire, but after signing the COVID-19 relief bill, he'll get boosted $300 weekly benefits, and $600 direct payment.
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"It's going to help a lot. I actually have car troubles at the moment," Reynolds explained. "My Jeep is parked in the parking lot unable to move. I'm just waiting for enough money in my account so I can get a gasket fixed on it."
It's unclear when Texans will see the money.
Texas Workforce Commission sent ABC13 the following statement on Monday:
"As it stands now, TWC must wait for direction from the U.S. Department of Labor prior to implementing any changes. TWC worked quickly to implement the CARES Act programs, and Texas was one of two states that was able to begin payments for the Lost Wages Assistance program just days after it was passed. As soon as we get direction from DOL, we will work as quickly as possible to make any changes or add extensions to current programs."
For unemployed Texans who are unsure about what to do, the agency says don't re-apply, continue to make payment requests, and make sure your contact information is correct.
As for direct $600 direct payments to Texans making less than $75,000, last week the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said it could arrive in days after the bill's passage.
University of Houston economics professor Dietrich Vollrath urged lawmakers to give Americans another $1,200. Although it's half the amount, Vollrath believes it'll make a difference.
"It's more important to do something imperfect than that we wait and try to come up with something perfect," Vollrath explained.
SEE ALSO: Second stimulus checks: See how much money you might receive under the new stimulus bill
Vollrath isn't sure Congress will need to pass more direct payments in 2021. He said they should focus on extending unemployment benefits.
"I think there may be space to say, 'Hey, that might need to get pushed into June,'" Vollrath said. "To allow people who have been pushed out of the labor market to survive until early next summer, once the vaccine is really thorough throughout the economy."
Vollrath said the direct payments, and enhanced unemployment benefits may not stimulate the economy. He said what will help the most with the new bill is the money for vaccines and testing.
"Those items are the things that'll boost the economy back to normal," Vollrath explained. "Hopefully that'll accelerate it to maybe March, rather than June, that would be great."
But time isn't something struggling Houstonians say they have after being hit hard by the pandemic.
"It's definitely a huge relief knowing that there's some help on the way," Reynolds said.
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