PA Pandemic Relief Efforts Tragically Underfunded

$7 billion sits in a vault while real need goes unmet across the state

Senator Vincent Hughes

Three months ago, shortly after the 2021-22 state budget was passed, I gathered allies and advocates at City Hall in Philadelphia to talk about where we thought the budget would fall short on its promise to help Pennsylvania quickly recover from the continuing pandemic.

We predicted that the money allocated in Harrisburg would be only a fraction of what was needed in the community. 

Turns out, we were right. 

This week, we gathered on the steps of the state Capitol to tell anyone who would listen that applications for help from pandemic related losses were running three to four times greater than the money the majority in Harrisburg would agree to allocate.

Free the Funds RallySeven billion dollars still sits in reserve while the efforts targeted to help businesses, workers, violence interveners, landlords, tenants, essential workers and others are being tragically underfunded.

Here’s an example: The Small Business Grant program has become a national model providing more than $250 million to save thousands of businesses and jobs.  However, the program received 62,000 applications with requests totaling well over $1 billion.  That means thousands of businesses and their employees will be turned away if we don’t apply more federal American Rescue Plan funds to provide relief.  The money was sent to Pennsylvania to help the economy, not to sit in a vault.

After violence spiked in the first year of the pandemic, we were able to pry loose $24 million for grants to violence prevention efforts.  The program received applications seeking $170 million, a shortfall that could derail the modest improvements made in addressing the crisis.

Hughes and Wolf Urge Community Groups to Apply for Anti-Violence Grants :: September 23, 2021

Income losses from the pandemic put landlords and tenants alike in a bind.  Thousands applied for relief, and Philadelphia successfully delivered for many of them.  But the program is now headed to a $330 million shortfall, a disaster for families and their landlords.

The pandemic is not over, and neither is the fight to help Pennsylvanians who have suffered the most.  Many businesses and individuals sacrificed greatly to help prevent the spread of this deadly infection.  Ignoring them at their time of need is unconscionable.