An application portal for the direct cash assistance program has been suspended after the city received more than 10,000 applications in four days.
United Way of Greater St. Louis, one of the city’s partners on the program, suspended the portal this afternoon to take time to process and review submitted applications. Opened on December 18, the program aims to help needy Saint-Louis residents who have lost income due to COVID-19. Approximately 9,300 residents will receive the direct cash payment of $ 500. City has received $ 517 million in COVID-19 relief from the federal government; the payments are part of a larger package of $ 135 million approved by the council of aldermen and the mayor earlier this summer.
Citing programs like the federal child tax credit and others like it in the city of Los Angeles and Cook County, Ill., Mayor Tishaura Jones at a press conference Wednesday after- midi said putting money in the hands of parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles works.
Jones said the data shows the child tax credit program has largely lifted millions of children out of poverty and added information from the Census Bureau that details who is receiving money from these initiatives. largely funds for groceries, bills and car payments.
“It’s through programs like these that we break the mold, try new things, and invest directly in people and neighborhoods in innovative ways,” Jones said. “Trusting families to spend money where they need it most helps put food on the table while putting money back into our communities. Poverty is the father of crime, and by fighting poverty, we make our neighborhoods stronger and safer.
The mayor asked for patience as offices process applications and begin approval processes. Regina Greer of United Way estimates that it takes approximately three to five days for requests to be processed and approved. A spokesperson for the town hall said that the deadline could be longer for some because of the influx of applications and necessary analyzes. Greer added that United Way is working to speed up this deadline.
Once approved, residents of Saint-Louis can receive their cards in one of two ways: digitally or by mail. The disbursement goes through the company MoCaFi. Approved applicants who choose to receive their card digitally will receive a text message 24-48 hours after approval to download their application to a mobile phone. Approved people will then be able to use their funds through their phone. Cards can also be mailed to those who do not have a telephone or Internet access and will be mailed to the address provided to Centraide.
MoCaFi representative Christina Keitt-Chaney estimates the disbursement time for physical cards at around ten to fifteen days. Those who need help with their cards can also use a customer service line open seven days a week.
Once the requests are processed, the portal will reopen until all the money allocated to the program is used up. The City of St. Louis website says the city will “keep the public informed of any reopening of the application portal as well as future in-person events.”
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