Emergency economic assistance needed for low-income families

Last week, the Legislature passed a $300 million economic aid package for COVID-19 relief efforts. This funding provides emergency relief for homeless shelters, food shelves, and childcare workers among other critical programs. While this is an important step to support the health and safety of Minnesotans, Senate DFLers were disappointed that emergency assistance for some of Minnesota’s lowest-income families was not included in the final bill.

Leading up to the session on Thursday, House and Senate DFLers were in negotiations with Republicans to provide a one-time $500 emergency assistance payment to approximately 27,700 families who participate in the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP). This proposal did not make it into the final legislative package. MFIP supports some of our lowest-income families with children by offering cash and food benefits with employment services. Even though working or seeking employment is a requirement of the program, they often do not qualify for Unemployment Benefits but are still seeing increased costs as they comply with Governor Walz’s Stay Home Minnesota directive.

Families across the state are spending more on items from groceries to utilities as their children are home during the day. Those at the lowest-income levels are at an increased risk of not being able to afford their basic needs. Senate DFLers are committed to supporting our most vulnerable families and are hopeful that this one-time case benefit will be included in future legislation.