Emergency cash program launches to help TN families unemployed or losing income due to COVID-19

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- An application launched Thursday to provide emergency cash assistance for Tennessee families facing unemployment or loss of income due to COVID-19. The new financial aid program comes from the TN Department of Human Services as the state sees a record spike in unemployment claims.

To qualify for assistance, families have to have been employed as of March 11th and have since lost employment. Families who lost at least 50% of earned income due to the COVID-19 emergency are also eligible.

“This is for families. It’s for pregnant women. It’s for those families who have experienced a tremendous loss of employment, or a reduction of hours they were not anticipating as a result specifically of COVID-19,” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle Barnes.

Families can apply for up to two months of payment. This could be between $500-$1,000 depending on household size.

Applicants must meet other requirements for the program. Families must have a child under 18 or a pregnant woman, a valid Social Security Number, and must not have resources over $2,000. Additionally, gross and/or unearned monthly income also can’t exceed 85% of the state median income.

Barnes said that from the time they apply, it should take families around ten days to receive an EBT card in the mail.

A spokesperson for the Department of Human Services told News Channel 11 enrollment for the program will be open through May 29th.

On Thursday the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce announced an increase of more than 36,000 unemployment claims filed in a week. Governor Bill Lee addressed the unprecedented numbers at a press conference.

“Now put that in perspective, the week before, we received 2,700 new unemployment claims. [We received] 39,000 this past week. That is a 1300% spike in unemployment,” Lee said.

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