COVID-19 Policy & Black Communities Roundup

Last Friday, U.S. House Democrats passed a $3 trillion bill to address economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic—the HEROES Act.

The bill extends federal unemployment compensation, provides direct payments to individuals of $1200 per person, increases SNAP benefits, and includes resources for renters, homeowners, and the homeless. It provides hazard pay for essential workers, expands paid leave, and protects workers from retaliation for reporting health hazards. The Act also provides money for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and health care providers, and expands health insurance options.

The bill directs additional resources to community development financial institutions and minority depository institutions, which are more likely to serve Black businesses. It also has several provisions that facilitate demographic data reporting by federal, state, and local agencies, and the bill provides resources for elections, broadband, HBCUs, and environmental justice grants.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the bill as an “1,800 page liberal wish list...that can hardly be taken seriously,” some progressives believed the bill did not go far enough.

For a more detailed analysis, read the Joint Center blog post “The Impact of the HEROES Act on Black Communities.”