Needy families in D.C. will be receiving federal COVID-19 largesse in the form of a one-time, $1,000 payment with no strings attached.
To be eligible, a household must already be enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
In announcing the payments, Mayor Muriel Bowser emphasized that, while families can spend the $1,000 in any way they’d like, the money is intended for back-to-school expenses.
“We know that back-to-school time can be an expensive time of year for families – new uniforms, haircuts, supplies; there are a lot of expenses all at once. We are disbursing these funds now to give families an extra cash bump,” Mayor Bowser said in a statement.
The money comes from the $15 million the city was allotted from the federal Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund.
The D.C. Department of Human Services said it “will issue the one-time benefit onto each household’s electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card this month,” to the 15,000 families currently receiving TANF benefits.
Mayor Bowser said that the money was being provided with no strings attached and no requirements on how to spend it to speed up the process.
“Sometimes in government we spend a lot of time on rules and regulations that create red tape that slow down payments and don’t let families make decisions about what’s really necessary for their kids and families,” Mayor Bowser said at a press conference, according to DCist.
Mayor Bowser was unmoved by concerns about money being used for non-school purposes.
“Some families will decide to use it all on food. Some families, all their kids will need shoes. … Or they may need a family night out, and that’s OK,” she said.
Eligible residents were understandably pleased with the news, including veteran and mother of five Natasha Dortch.
“That thousand dollars is gonna help me out, really, a lot. Shoes, uniforms, extra supplies — just everything — haircuts,” Ms. Dortch told NBC 4.