Prioritize Young People in Coronavirus Relief

A few weeks ago, Congress worked lightning-fast to produce The CARES Act, a $2 trillion package of legislation to expand unemployment, provide stimulus checks, bail out corporations and more. Unfortunately, many of those policies didn't reach young people. We must stop Congress from making the same mistake again. Fill out the form to send a letter to your representatives today.

With the United States now the epicenter of the global pandemic, Congress must enact further relief immediately, and this time they must explicitly include young people. Despite the important provisions and emergency funding included in the CARES Act, young people across the nation told us they didn't qualify for stimulus checks, were forced out of their housing, lost access to essential care, and more.

Young people are falling through the cracks of the country’s public health and economic response to COVID-19. Congress must prioritize youth who rely on life-saving medication, identify as LGBTQ+, are of color, are currently enrolled in school (secondary or higher education), live on college campuses, are survivors of sexual assault, are living with HIV, come from mixed status immigrant families, are pregnant or parenting, were declared “dependents” on their parents’ most recent taxes, obtain health insurance through a parents’ employment, or who are juggling multiple part-time or gig economy jobs.

Advocates for Youth and URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity have surveyed the young people we work with every day and developed 12 policy recommendations to include in the next relief bill, currently being referred to as COVID Relief Package 4, or CARES 2:
  1. Expand and guarantee qualification to stimulus checks for those living with mixed status families, including DACA recipients, temporary visa holders, and beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status. The virus does not care about immigration status or tax filing status. Gaps in relief are endangering young immigrants and their families, many of which are putting their lives in danger as essential workers.

  2. Close the gap that disqualifies thousands of young people, ages 17-23, for a stimulus check and support. By excluding young people who have been claimed “dependents” on their parents’ previous taxes, thousands of young people, many who have been displaced from their college housing, have fallen through the cracks of the economic response. These young people are facing the same financial barriers as the rest of the population, as they are enrolled in school and tend to work multiple part-time or gig economy jobs that have now reduced hours or ended entirely. They are still expected to find housing, pay tuition and other bills, and maintain their livelihood just like everyone else. Being a “dependent” for their parents’ tax purposes does not mean these young people are not living full lives and contributing to the economy.

  3. Quickly move as many people as possible from crowded shelters, prisons, detention centers, and jails, to safe housing. Cases of COVID-19 have been reported in higher concentrations within prisons and detention centers across the country. Decarcerating as many people as possible in custody or detention, including immigration detention centers, will ensure that all people who might be exposed are tested and treated.

  4. Expand unemployment, paid leave, and nutrition benefits for all those who need them and extend the time frame. Fill gaps in eligibility and increase benefits so all people in this country have basic needs met and can stay home as needed. Congressional leaders need to ensure that SNAP work requirements are suspended for all public programs, including student work requirements.

  5. Expand healthcare access, regardless of how people obtain their insurance. Unnecessary and harmful language limiting what healthcare is covered, such as Hyde Amendment language, should not be included in any new COVID-19 related spending packages. Congress should also guarantee access to telehealth and telemedicine, with a particular focus on marginalized and rural communities, and pass the My AcceSS Act to ensure that if the FDA moves quickly to bring oral contraceptives over-the-counter, then insurance will still cover this necessary medication.

  6. Do more for student borrowers by cancelling crushing student debt.

  7. Ensure schools continue to comply with civil rights and school safety obligations.

  8. Ensure the Department of Education and Universities are appropriately freezing student fees, tuition payments, refunding room and board costs for those who are unable to pay due to COVID-19.

  9. Require the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to collect and report demographic data on COVID-19 testing practices, cases, deaths, and severe illness/complications from COVID-19.

  10. Do not abandon the necessity of nondiscrimination measures during this pandemic.

  11. Institute a guaranteed nationwide cancellation of rents and home mortgage payments through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

  12. Require the Department of Treasury to ensure the United States Postal Service is given the funds to be able to continue to operate effectively.

During this global pandemic, Congress must act swiftly to ensure that young people do not fall further through the cracks. Tell your representatives to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of young people in the next phase of emergency relief legislation! Fill out the form to send a letter now.

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