April 07, 2020

Van Hollen, Smith to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: Make Sure Americans Experiencing Homelessness Get Coronavirus Relief Payments

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) in a Senate push to ensure the Trump Administration is taking the steps necessary to make certain that people experiencing homelessness across the country receive coronavirus relief payments.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Tuesday, Senators Van Hollen, Smith, and 26 of their Senate colleagues urged him to consider the steep barriers people experiencing homelessness will confront when trying to access the direct stimulus payments provided in the recent bipartisan COVID-19 relief package. The senators also pressed Secretary Mnuchin to launch a public awareness campaign to make sure that people experiencing homelessness are aware of their eligibility for these payments. 

“[P]eople experiencing homelessness face unique barriers to receiving the payments they are entitled to under the law. Many have no bank account in which they could receive a direct deposit, and no fixed address to receive a check in the mail – and if they do receive a check, fees at check cashing institutions are often exorbitantly high,” the Senators wrote to Mnuchin. “[They] are among those most in need of the economic relief payments, but also are among the groups of individuals facing the biggest impediments to accessing those funds.”

In the letter, the senators asked Mnuchin to publish guidance stating that Americans without a permanent address or bank account are not precluded from relief payments. They also asked the Department to publish specific procedures to help those without a bank account, government-issued identification, or a permanent address get access to their payments. Finally, the senators pushed him to conduct a public awareness campaign aimed at identifying Americans experiencing homelessness and helping them get their payments.

The full text of the letter is available here.

Joining Senators Van Hollen and Smith on the letter were Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Michael F. Bennett (D-Colo.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Robert P. Casey, Jr., (D-Pa.), and Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.).