NEW HAMPSHIRE – During a virtual roundtable earlier this week, Senator Maggie Hassan spoke with non-profit leaders and Granite Staters about the need for additional economic assistance for individuals in the next COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Hassan’s office worked with two participants on the call to help them receive the stimulus payments and expanded unemployment insurance that they were eligible for under the federal CARES Act.
As a result of efforts from Senators Hassan and colleagues, more than 18 million Americans should have automatically received their $1,200 stimulus payments included in the bipartisan CARES Act without having to file tax returns. Senator Hassan successfully called on the Treasury Department to issue stimulus payments automatically to those who receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income, and VA pension, disability, or survivor benefits. Senator Hassan recently introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that any future stimulus payments will go out automatically to Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and VA beneficiaries.
See below for coverage highlights:
By Julie Huss
As the pandemic challenges continue, U.S Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., heard concerns from leaders and citizens around the state about what they are facing and how additional relief could support what they do.
During a virtual roundtable Wednesday morning, Hassan joined with Granite State nonprofit leaders and constituents to hear more about what additional COVID-19 assistance could do if and when another relief package is approved by Congress.
Those signing on the meeting with Hassan included Eileen Liponis, executive director of the New Hampshire Food Bank; Elliott Berry, the managing attorney and housing justice project director for New Hampshire Legal Assistance; Jeanne Robillard, CEO of Tri-County Community Action; and two constituents, Jessica Kubarek from Salem and Jeanne Donohoe from Keene. Both Kubarek and Donohoe offered their personal views on how the federal CARES Act supported their families earlier this year when the pandemic took hold.
[…]Hassan started the roundtable by saying she is appreciative of all the hard work nonprofits around the state are doing to help those in need, while even having serious challenges themselves.
"And talking about things, it really helps people give us an understanding of what a lot of Granite State families and Americans are going through," the senator said, adding so many are continuing to grapple with impacts of COVID-19 and are waiting to see what sort of resolution may come from Washington, D.C. for additional help.
"Here in New Hampshire, we are having some success," Hassan said, "but there is more we can do also nationally."
Putting hopes on an eventual vaccine will be a turning point, she added.
Hassan said she keeps pushing for the Senate to return from the current break and head back to Washington, D.C. to find a solution on the next relief package.
"We are here for all of you, for what you are seeing on the ground," Hassan said, "and to get us back to Washington for negotiation and get help to people as soon as possible."
[…]Kubarek thanked Hassan for her help when she needed support navigating the state's unemployment system.
The Salem woman said she filed for assistance back in April when her job at a local restaurant was gone, but hadn't had much luck receiving payments.
She told Hassan she kept filing for several weeks, but didn't get any finalization until the senator's office got involved to help.
"I had never applied before," Kubarek said, adding every month that went by with no decision, she and her family, including two young children, had to keep pushing bills back.
Hassan said she wanted people to realize everyone is in this pandemic together.
"And asking for help is important," she said.
By Barbara Tetreault
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for food assistance, housing and other services, especially in the North Country. The heads of the N.H. Food Bank and Tri-County Community Action Program told U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) their programs are seeing people seeking help who have never sought assistance before.
Hassan hosted a virtual roundtable Wednesday to demonstrate the importance of additional funding for individuals in the next COVID-19 funding bill. Efforts to pass the so-called HEROES bill are stalled in Congress.
N.H. Food Bank Executive Director Eileen Liponis said the demand on her agency for assistance is up about 50 percent. She said last year, the food bank distributed about 14 million pounds of food and she predicted this year that figure will be closer to 21 million pounds. She said many of their partner agencies report seeing new faces seeking assistance.
[…]Tri-County Community Action Program CEO Jeanne Robillard agreed that there is a greater sense of food insecurity, especially in the North Country. She said the uncertain status of schools has added to that since many families depend on school meals. She said child care is also an issue for some parents in districts with hybrid school plans.
Robillard said the North Country economy is very dependent on tourism and that the industry has been hard hit by the pandemic. With restaurants and hotels not fully open, she said a lot of people are still laid off. “We are also seeing people looking for assistance, all kinds of assistance that we have never seen before. And we expect that to continue for quite some time,” she said.
Robillard said many North Country families live one paycheck away from disaster. “This is truly, truly a disaster that will have long-term consequences for them,” she said.
She thanked Hassan for supporting federal Community Services Block Grants and said they are waiting for that funding to implement some programs that will help families bridge those disasters.
[…]Jeanne Donohoe of Keene contacted Hassan’s staff because she and her husband were having trouble getting their stimulus checks.
Donohoe said they don’t get a refund, so the IRS did not have their bank deposit information and they did not find the IRS website user-friendly. When they did receive their stimulus payment, it came as a prepaid Visa card. She also had trouble finding a bank to take the card without charging interest. She said the instructions were not clear but received a call from Hassan’s staff with advice.
Donohoe described herself as “pretty technologically savvy” but said the process was difficult. She suggested the government use Social Security payments to distribute stimulus funding. Hassan has introduced legislature to ensure any funding will go out automatically to Social Security, SSI and VA beneficiaries.