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Listeners Make Plans For Their Federal Relief Money


As of last week, more than 26 million people have filed for unemployment assistance across the U.S. That's almost double the number that were unemployed at the worst of the 2008 financial crisis. Relief payments are now rolling into bank accounts all over the country, but they'll help meet some needs more than others. We asked some people who got their checks how they're using them and whether they feel it was enough.

CATHERINE IMANI: Hi, my name is Imani. My husband and I moved to Salt Lake for a job. But unfortunately, due to corona, the job was pushed back, going on almost two months at this point. So that's put us in a really bad situation because it's impacted our housing and our ability to pay bills.

Additionally, when we initially left, I had been recovering from a chronic illness that has deeply impacted our finances. Even with our stimulus checks, it's not enough. And I'm concerned about using that money because I don't know when I'm ever going to have any kind of money again. So I'm negotiating our next month's rent with Airbnb, and I'm using part of the money for that. Some of it I'm using for food, and the rest of it I'm trying to figure out how to use for the rest of at least two to six months. So we'll see.

JOHN FILICICCHIA: Hi. This is John from Delaware. I'm still getting a pension from the state, and my wife is able to work from home, so we're very fortunate in this situation that our income has not changed. Our eldest continues to work for a local produce market and came to us recently, saying there was an issue with her car. So when I took it into the shop, I was expecting a real simple fix. They called and said $2,500 worth of repairs.

So on top of the other essential things that I was going to use some of this money for, like topping off the tank for the heating oil, we're using our check to pay for that car repair, too. So while it's helping us to keep some essential services, it was gone as soon as we got it.

CINDL BERGEN: Hi. This is Cindl Bergen from Pelzer, S.C. With my $1,200 stimulus check, I will make a car payment, pay my utilities. I have a serious plumbing issue that needs to be addressed, and I want to get my dogs some proper medicine and food. Today, they shared a honey bun, and I'm pretty sure they hate me now.

CHRISTOPHER CROMPTON: My name is Christopher Crompton from Pennsylvania. As someone who was already behind on bills, the one-time stimulus package is not enough to help get through this monumental time. Job losses everywhere, and the majority of jobs that are available put people at risk. Having people in my household with blood disorders and one with heart problems, a job like that is not wise to take. The fear of bringing COVID-19 home to them is always there at this point. In order to come out of this situation not homeless and losing everything, we need help.

DAYSHAWN WASHINGTON: My name is Dayshawn Washington. I currently live in Northampton, Mass. I received my stimulus check about a week ago, and I have yet to spend it, as I still have a bit of money in my bank account. I'm fortunate enough to have employment in the fall and spring through my university, as well as a modest summer stipend. But should I have any unexpected expenses, I'm hoping that the stimulus check would be enough, excluding a medical bill, which would most likely be a hell of a lot more than $1,200.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Dayshawn Washington, Christopher Crompton, Cindl Bergen, John Filicicchia and Catherine Imani. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.
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