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Unemployment compensation expires

Unemployed recipients receiving the weekly $600 additional compensation from the federal government’s coronavirus relief program may see those funds come to an end, or be greatly reduced in the coming weeks.

Saturday, July 25, marked the expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which gave Americans on unemployment the extra $600 on top of regular unemployment benefits as a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Although unemployed residents may still receive extra funding through the GOP’s newly proposed stimulus package, the number is expected to be much less, and specifics regarding government funding are still up for debate.

The Senate’s Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act proposes cutting the compensation from an extra $600 a week to $200 a week through September. By October, however, that extra $200 is proposed to change to a payment that when combined with a resident’s regular unemployment compensation would equal 70% of that person’s previous income.

Until plans are solidified and a new program is in place, though, families across the country and locally will have to make drastic adjustments in order to make up for the significant drop off in compensation.

Prince Edward County Department of Social Services (DSS) Director Roma Morris said Tuesday the office is preparing for an influx of food stamp applications, as the FPUC’s expiration will mean many more county residents are applicable.

“We’re going to see an uptick in food stamp applications for sure,” she said.

Morris said the department is already experiencing an increase in applications for Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a program that provides eligible families with a monthly cash payment to meet their basic needs.

According to Morris, Prince Edward DSS was given $300,000 of CARES Act funding from the county to form the CARES Act Assistance Program. The program aims to help households who had their income stopped, decreased or delayed by the coronavirus by awarding one-time benefits up to $1,000 for rent, utility or mortgage payments.

Eligible households can apply to the program beginning Aug. 1 through Nov. 30 or until funds are depleted.

DSS is also currently accepting applications for its Energy Assistance Program to help qualifying households in meeting energy needs during the summer months.

Wednesday, Farmville Area Community Emergency Services (FACES) Food Pantry President Ellery Sedgwick said FACES is also expecting an uptick in applications for food assistance now that the FPUC has expired.