POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

As two federal pandemic emergency-assistance programs near an end, Cox has solutions

Feb 3, 2023, 11:17 AM

Two temporary federal pandemic emergency assistance programs are coming to an end in the coming mon...

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Two temporary federal pandemic emergency-assistance programs are coming to an end in the coming months due to thousands of job opportunities for Utahns. 

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program emergency allotment, SNAP, and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program have helped thousands of Utahns through the pandemic. 

“But we have always known these programs would be temporary, and fortunately, Utah’s economy has thousands of job opportunities for those who are looking,” said Nate McDonald, deputy director of the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

According to a release from the state of Utah, the omnibus bill recently passed by Congress included an end date for SNAP emergency allotment as February 2023. At the beginning of March, all households in Utah receiving SNAP benefits will only get prepandemic level benefits. 

But the eligibility for SNAP has not changed. 

During the pandemic, the average emergency distribution per household was around $175-$200 per month. About 74,000 Utah households received the emergency allotment. 

The American Rescue Plan gave Utah $344 million in federal Emergency Rental Assistance Funds. These funds helped Utahns pay rent and utilities during the pandemic. Launched on March 15, 2021, the program processed more than 97,000 applications as of December 31, 2022. 

Furthermore, the program paid out $287 million to assist eligible Utahns. However, the assistance will no longer be available after Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023. 

Combating challenges Utahns face without pandemic assistance

Although these programs are ending, Gov. Spencer Cox’s budget included several items addressing the needs these two programs addressed. One recommendation by Cox is a $150 million investment in housing support for Utahns.

The housing would range from those experiencing homelessness to first-time home buyers.

Also included in the budget is $800,000 for Utah food pantries to help offset the rising food costs. 

These recommendations will be considered by state Legislature during the ongoing session. 

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As two federal pandemic emergency-assistance programs near an end, Cox has solutions