• 73°

Details of CARES Act explained

Virginia continues to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak as best we can. But the toll is impossible to ignore. Hundreds are ill, and more than a dozen have died.

We’ve gone from a roaring economy and budget surpluses to spiking unemployment and a state budget that will likely need significant rework before the reconvened session.

Virginians are hurting, but we’re working every day to help ease the burden and get everyone back on their feet. As Robert Frost said, “The only way out is through.”
Meanwhile, Congress has passed the CARES Act, which is designed to provide relief and help get the economy moving again. I have put together some key points about the bill.

Individuals– The bill provides for direct payments to individuals to be made as soon as possible with $1,200 to every adult who has filed taxes with a social security number. It provides $2,400 to a married couple filing jointly. Additionally, it sets aside $500 for each child age 17 and younger. The benefit phases out starting at $75,000 in Gross Adjusted 2018 income for single filers, $150,000 for joint filers. It ends completely at $99,000 for single filers, $198,000 for joint filers. The IRS will attempt to use the most recent banking information on file for taxpayers to distribute funds electronically. Failing that, they will issue paper checks.

Small Businesses– Up to $350 billion in Small Business Administration (SBA) loans will be granted and forgiven under the bill. Another $10 billion is set aside to provide $10,000 grants through the SBA and $17 billion set aside for SBA to cover six months of payments on existing SBA loans.

Unemployment- The bill adds an additional $600 per week for the unemployed for up to four months. Funding will be provided to pay the cost of the first week of unemployment benefits through Dec. 31, 2020 for states that choose to pay recipients as soon as they become unemployed instead of waiting one week before the individual is eligible to receive benefits.

It also provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through Dec. 31, 2020 to help those who remain unemployed after weeks of state unemployment benefits are no longer available.

Mortgage Relief- The final bill will prohibit foreclosures on all federally backed mortgage loans for a 60-day period and provides up to 180 days of forbearance for federally backed borrowers who have experienced a financial hardship related to the COVID-19 emergency.

The bill will also provide up to 90 days of forbearance for borrowers with a federally backed multi-family mortgage loan who have experienced a financial hardship. Borrowers receiving forbearance may not evict or charge late fees to tenants for the duration of the forbearance period.

Further, for 120 days, landlords will be prohibited from initiating legal action to evict or charge fees and penalties to the tenant if the landlord’s mortgage on the property is in any way assisted by Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the rural housing voucher program, or the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.

There’s no two ways about it: Our world has been turned upside down in less than a month. A roaring economy has hit a brick wall, jobs we thought were secure have evaporated. Children who were headed into spring break are now at home for months. Academic calendars and sports have been thrown into chaos.

But never forget this is Virginia.

Virginians have endured for 400 years. Through war, famine, disease and disaster, Virginians have always risen to the occasion and bounced back stronger than ever.

If we want our lives to get back to normal, we all must work together — that means looking out for our neighbors and taking common sense steps to stop the spread of this disease.

If you can, work from home. If you can’t, practice as much social distancing as possible. Avoid crowds larger than 10 people. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and do so frequently.

Patronize your local businesses if you can. Ordering takeout from a small restaurant with a healthy tip is a great way to help our communities keep the lights on.

Check on neighbors who may live alone (from a distance). And, if you can, donate blood. The Red Cross reports that the national blood supply is dangerously low.

There is no parallel to this crisis in modern Virginia history. But it is temporary, and if we all do our part, we will get through it and come out stronger on the other side.

Del. C. Matthew Fariss represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.