Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – New Mexico families who qualified this year for a federal cash assistance program will get a one-time cash payment of $446 this weekend under the latest round of pandemic financial relief.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration said Friday the $5.6 million program will benefit nearly 13,000 families and, unlike a previous cash assistance program, will not require eligible residents to file an application.
“My administration will continue to aggressively pursue every avenue for helping working families get the services and assistance they need, whether it’s child care, or energy assistance, or cash for other necessities,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.
The cash payments are intended to help low-income families pay for housing, utility payments, food, clothing and other expenses.
They will be made directly by the state’s Human Services Department, which runs several federally-funded safety net programs, onto the Electronic Benefit Transfer (or EBT) cards held by those who already receive monthly cash assistance benefits.
Only New Mexico residents who qualified and received benefits in January from various cash assistance programs will get the one-time payment, with one payment issued for each qualifying household, a Human Services Department spokeswoman said.
Under current income eligibility guidelines, a family of four making up to $2,209 per month – or about $26,500 per year – is eligible for the state’s cash assistance program. Such a family is eligible to get a maximum of $539 in cash assistance per month.
New Mexico has long struggled with poverty-related issues and the state’s median household income of $48,283 was among the nation’s lowest in 2018, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, both the federal and state government have authorized financial relief programs for low-income residents and front-line workers, and the assistance programs have led to a surge in New Mexico consumer spending.
“The public health emergency has disproportionately impacted so many families working to make ends meet,” said Angela Medrano, a deputy secretary of the Human Services Department. “These funds are essential to provide families much-needed financial relief.”
More than 4,000 low-income New Mexico households who did not receive federal stimulus checks during the pandemic got $750 in cash assistance payments under a previous state-funded program this year, and an additional round of emergency aid is expected to be announced in the next week.