New Hampshire Sen. Hassan discusses need for direct COVID relief to families

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On Monday, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) held a virtual roundtable with Granite State residents about the need for direct relief for individuals and families in the next COVID package.

With the U.S. Senate expected to more forward this week on a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, Sen. Hassan told her constituents that there should be fewer hiccups in the rollout process if this bill passes than there were in the CARES Act.

“I’m working to fix some of the issues that Granite Staters have experienced in receiving economic relief from the last package,” Sen. Hassan said. “Last week the U.S. Department of Labor announced it would heed my call to fix a policy that was limiting the ability of workers who have had reduced hours or have been temporarily laid off.”

Local leaders are continuing to hear from families struggling to put food on the table while managing rent payments, healthcare costs and other expenses.

One New Hampshire resident at Monday’s roundtable said he was temporarily laid off in August because he worked in corporate travel transportation, and the looming expiration of boosted federal unemployment has been a big concern.

“To me, that’s why it’s important to get the bill passed before it expires,” said Matthew Greene. “I’m sure I’m one of tens of thousands of people who go through that in multiple weeks. When you’ve been laid off three, four, or five months, seven weeks of what’s already a considerable amount less than what you were getting is a big deal.”

Much like Vermont, there’s also a push for broadband investment in the Granite State. Josh Meehan, executive director of Keene Housing, wants to see that included in the relief package. Keene Housing helps find homes for over a thousand low-income families, and the CARES Act helped them pay residents’ broadband bills so students could learn remotely.

“Once the cares act funding goes away, so for us, it’s the end of this calendar year.. Then what do we do?” Meehan asked.

Hassan said the senate is currently discussing whether they can invest in additional broadband services, both in infrastructure and payment. She said if it’s not included in this, the discussion would likely carry over to lawmaker’s discussion of an infrastructure overhaul in the coming weeks and months.

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