With hundreds of thousands across the Ohio Valley struggling to make ends meet, a suite of coronavirus aid packages, including rent and utility relief funding, eviction moratoriums, and expanded unemployment benefits, is set to expire at the end of December.
The consequences could be far-reaching. Poverty rates have soared as some federal programs, including the additional $600 in weekly unemployment aid, came to a close. Now, over 75% of Kentucky’s 7,654 independent restaurants are in danger of closing permanently, according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition; one in three West Virginians is at risk of eviction; 16% of Ohioans are behind on their rent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 6.9% — well below the terrifying peaks of late spring, but twice what it was in February.
Even those who do have cash to spend are being more cautious with it.