A Lottery Might Pick Who'll Get $500 Monthly Stimulus Checks

By Dave Basner

July 22, 2021

Photo: Getty Images

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, three stimulus checks have gone out to millions of Americans, but for many, the direct payments did little to offset the financial burdens they face. However in March, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, and along with the third stimulus check, the relief package offered more ways to help those who are struggling.

It expanded the the Federal Child Tax Credit, and because of that, last week, monthly checks started going out to families in need. The bill also set aside money to distribute to Americans having trouble paying their rent or mortgage, and to parents needing help with their child care costs. Additionally, the plan sent billions of dollars to local and state governments for them to decide how to best use the aid. Some cities, like Chicago, Oakland, St. Paul and Newark, plan to give some residents $500 checks every month for between one and two years. But how do they decide who should get the money? Well, Buffalo, New York, has an idea. They hope to give out $500 monthly checks for two years to 1,600 low-income households, and they might select them by a lottery.

The program will cost $20 million dollars and, according to The Buffalo News, while some people are all for the "Income Assistance Program," citing how similar programs in other cities have helped residents get out of poverty, many feel that the money should instead be spent on larger issues that can assist all struggling low-income households, not just the lucky 1,600 that get picked in a lottery. Among those problems are high rent and low-quality housing.

The program will be discussed at a meeting next week, and if it is approved and successful, it could wind up being adopted by many other cities across the country, which are all also deciding on the best uses for the federal aid they've been sent.

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