Thursday, March 23, 2023

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A proposed flavored tobacco ban is back on the table in Minnesota, Trump attorney Evan Corcoran must testify in the documents probe, and a "clean slate" bill in Missouri would make "expungement" automatic.

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The Fed raises interest rates and reassures the banking system is sound, Norfolk Southern reaffirms a commitment to the people of East Palestine, and TikTok creators gather at the Capitol to support free expression.

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Finding childcare is a struggle everywhere, prompting North Carolina's Transylvania County to try a new approach. Maine is slowly building-out broadband access, but disagreements remain over whether local versus national companies should get the contracts, and specialty apps like "Farmers Dating" help those in small communities connect online.

Poverty-Fighting Groups: Pandemic Aid Helped, But Need Persists

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Tuesday, February 28, 2023   

Data continues to surface about the impact of federal pandemic relief distributed to states as the COVID crisis took shape.

A Minnesota organization said it was a big help for those in need, but there's concern as some of the aid fades. Minnesota Community Action Partnership said policies such as the American Rescue Plan resulted in 153,000 low-income households around the state getting additional help with their energy bills. And through the group, more than 105,000 rental assistance payments have been made.

Bill Grant, executive director of the Minnesota Community Action Partnership, said offices around the state worked overtime to ensure the assistance got in the right hands.

"The funding addressed needs that were at the top of the priority list for households in poverty in Minnesota," Grant recounted.

But Grant noted some of the extra support has wrapped up, most notably emergency rental relief. He acknowledged there are bills in the Legislature recognizing the need to extend aid which has either reached its limit or will eventually do so. But it remains unclear if the state will be able to include all funding requests this session, even with a historic surplus.

Grant suggested shoring up long-term support should require a mix of state and federal action. He added while there was success in keeping some households from falling deeper into financial hardship during the crisis, it does not mean problems will disappear.

"It's important to keep people reminded that when we're not in a crisis anymore, that for a lot of people, individual household crises continue to be a fact of life," Grant asserted.

He pointed to concerns about eviction rates after pandemic-related moratoriums expired. According to Minnesota legislative officials, one in 30 renter households across the state faced eviction last year.

Meanwhile, Grant will be part of a Minnesota delegation going to the White House this week to discuss the scope of federal aid pursued by the Biden administration.

Disclosure: The Minnesota Community Action Association Resource Fund contributes to our fund for reporting on Early Childhood Education, Health Issues, Housing/Homelessness, and Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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