Today, April 12, D.C. opens up eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone ages 16 and older. If you are 16 and older, I encourage you to get vaccinated, and if you have concerns about taking the shot, feel free to write to me. I can help you get your questions answered. There are a number of ways to get a vaccine appointment that are detailed in the answer to the first question in the Q&A section below.
Also today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new Website and phone number for rent and utilities assistance. The program, STAY DC, will provide up to 12 months of past due rent payments from April 2020 and three months of rental assistance moving forward if you qualify due to income. There is also financial assistance for water, gas, and electric utilities. The website is stay.dc.gov and phone number is 833-478-2932 (833-4-STAYDC). See the Q&A section for additional information, and I’ll spend more time on this in next week’s newsletter.
What’s In It for Me?
The American Rescue Plan will bring 2.2 billion federal dollars over the next three years to the District of Columbia, including extensions of various unemployment compensation programs. If you received Unemployment Insurance (UI) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) in 2020 and have not returned to work, you are likely eligible for the additional benefits in the American Rescue Plan. Typically, unemployment benefits can last up to a year, but the American Rescue Plan extends UI beyond the traditional year timeframe.
The American Rescue Plan continues through September 2021 the $300/week supplemental payment to UI and PUA recipients that was made available beginning in late December 2020.
Here’s how the plan will impact you if you collect unemployment compensation, broken out by program and extensions:
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 5, 2021 – D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large), chair of the Council’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, issued the following statement on the death of Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) President Elizabeth Davis:
News Release: Silverman Introduces Emergency Legislation to Protect Family Leave Benefit Payments to DC Workers
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 2, 2021 – D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large) introduced emergency legislation this week to protect paid family leave benefits to District workers who also hold short-term disability insurance plans. Since D.C.’s groundbreaking Universal Paid Leave program started paying benefits to workers in July 2020, some District insurance companies have been subtracting the money workers expect to receive from the D.C. paid leave program from the amount they pay out to claimants who have short-term disability policies.
I’m continuing with the question and answer format in this newsletter. Topics include: DCPS' announcement that it would adopt the CDC guidance of three-feet social distancing for students; the DC statehood hearing in the House of Representatives; updates on unemployment compensation; vaccines; and, rental assistance.
This week marked the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a pandemic, and DC declaring a public health emergency. While we need to remain vigilant to curb the virus -- wearing our masks, keeping our social distance, etc. -- there’s a lot of new information and new protocols being put in place that have raised many questions. If you’re like me, reading dense information has gotten, well, more difficult in the last year. For upcoming weeks, I’m going to put our newsletter in a question and answer format to make it scannable and easy to read.
Topics I’ll cover this week: vaccine distribution; how Biden’s Rescue Package helps DC workers, residents, and businesses; and when should I file taxes? Next week I’ll Q & A more on unemployment insurance, rental assistance, and public schools, so send me questions you have.
This has been a week of highs and lows.
It was so hopeful and affirming to see the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrive at DC hospitals! Per our Vaccination Plan, thousands of essential healthcare workers will receive the first of two vaccine shots in upcoming days! Initial distribution of the vaccine is rejuvenating, even though the risk of COVID transmission remains dangerously high in the challenging winter months ahead. There was further good news that both Maryland and Virginia have agreed to contribute thousands of vaccine doses to DC hospitals given these institutions are regional and doses were distributed to states based on residential population; a DC Health survey estimates approximately 75 percent of essential healthcare workers employed in DC live outside DC.
Press Release: Department of Employment Services Director to Testify on New DC Stimulus and Potential End of Federal Funding for PUA, UI Extensions
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 15, 2020 – Unless Congress takes action, significant parts of the pandemic-related safety net created by the federal CARES Act will come to an end the day after Christmas. Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) Director Unique Morris-Hughes will testify before the DC Council about what claimants can expect if federal funding for certain unemployment compensation programs does not extend beyond Dec. 26. The Director will also explain who will receive DC’s new $1,200 economic stimulus payment and when it will likely arrive, as well as talk about other issues with unemployment compensation and benefit extensions.
Silverman Introduces Revised DCPS Reopening Bill
Incorporating feedback from parents, teachers, and other DCPS stakeholders, bill focuses on transparency and collaboration while reopening schools safely
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 14, 2020 – Recognizing that returning students to in-person classroom learning requires collaboration and trust among all those involved with DC Public Schools (DCPS), Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large) released a revised version of the “Pandemic Learning Emergency Act of 2020” for consideration at tomorrow’s D.C. Council legislative meeting. The goal of the bill is to shift the DCPS reopening process from one that has been disjointed, chaotic, and confusing to a process that is cooperative and transparent.
Dear Director Morris-Hughes:
Yesterday’s announcement by Mayor Bowser of a $1,200 supplemental payment to some of our unemployed workers was great news, and I was glad to see you at the press conference to explain how the payment will work. Still, there are many questions about who will get the money and when. As you know, this is a scary time for our unemployment claimants, because federal CARES Act funding will end in less than three weeks. If Congress doesn’t take action, the program that has provided weekly checks for an estimated 40,000 DC independent contractors and gig workers will evaporate, as well as money to extend traditional unemployment insurance for another 120,000 DC workers.
[Click here for a PDF of the letter or continue reading below]