People Experiencing Homelessness Are In Danger Of Going Without Coronavirus Recovery Rebates During This Ongoing Pandemic
AHCH, HopeWorks Outreach Team members, and volunteers completed tax work to file 2020 federal and state taxes for 51 people experiencing homelessness, courtesy of United Way of Central New Mexico free tax prepare website. On average, each person that had not received any coronavirus recovery rebates saw a benefit of $1,920. This benefit is important to people experiencing homelessness. It could make the difference in ending their homelessness.
The Economic Impact Payment Outreach Team touched the lives of 70 folks at 3 outreaches at the newly opened AHCH Resource Center and 2 outreaches at Central Avenue and Charleston Street along with AHCH Harm Reduction Team. Thank you to KOB 4 Reporter Casey Torres for bringing the project and its impact to the community so people could get help who needed it. An excellent example of coordination, partnership, and
AHCH will continue to offer scheduled appointments with people experiencing homelessness to help claim their coronavirus recovery rebates. The extended deadline to file taxes is May 17th. To schedule an appointment, call AHCH at 505-767-1150.
Albuquerque Health Care For The Homeless’ (AHCH) new Public Benefits Coordinator, Katherine Carpenter, J.D., who graduated from law school in May 2020, spearheads a project to bring much needed coronavirus recovery rebates from the U.S. Treasury Department to people in dire need to navigate needs during this ongoing pandemic. People experiencing homelessness have been and are deeply affected by the ongoing pandemic. Most folks aren’t aware they are entitled to an Economic Impact Payment despite a housing status or lack thereof, were incarcerated, moved to New Mexico from another state, or simply unfamiliar with the logistics to file federal and state taxes.
Many lost day labor and employment opportunities previously available to them before the pandemic.
The Economic Impact Payment Outreach Project assists people experiencing homelessness in the access of coronavirus recovery rebates that were intended for everyone. The lack of income is one of the causes of homelessness. People experiencing homelessness lack even basic access to food and water. Lack of affordable housing and health care continue to increase homelessness. In fact, New Mexico had the highest increase in homelessness in the country in 2019 at 27% and a minimum of 15.5 in every 10,000 people were experiencing homelessness in New Mexico in 2019 (US Department of Housing and Urban Development, The 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, January).
Three clinics will be hosted at Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless Resource Center, 1220 First Street N.W. from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on April 7, 21, and May 5, and 2 clinics during AHCH’s Friday night outreaches at Central Avenue and Charleston Street from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on April 16 and April 30 in conjunction with the AHCH Street Medicine Outreach Team and HopeWorks. Including people who are experiencing homelessness in our policy-making, listening to their needs, recognizing their disenfranchisement and isolation from society, and promoting their empowerment towards self-sufficiency is the cornerstone of the AHCH mission and including people experiencing homelessness in the distribution of economic impact payments fits right with this aim.
AHCH Public Benefits Coordinator Katherine Carpenter has assembled and trained team members of AHCH and HopeWorks to register people with valid email addresses at United Way’s website at www.myfreetaxes.com with mobile tablets and laptops on-site. HopeWorks team members will establish mailing addresses, a unique service to their agency, to ensure people will be receiving their Economic Impact Payments in a safe and timely manner at their mail distribution center in downtown Albuquerque. Once a person has been helped filing their 2020 federal and state taxes, one should expect to receive their check within two weeks according to Katherine.
While folks are waiting, client advocates from AHCH and HopeWorks will appropriately query them for medical or legal needs that might be preventing them from becoming housed. Housing assessment coordinators will be on-site as well as medical clinic staff and harm reduction specialists. Contact tracers will coordinate COVID-19 safety regulations to ensure a healthy outcome for all who attend.
Other roles during the clinics include client greeters, contact tracers, line organizers, and technical assistants with tax filing knowledge on hand to ensure accuracy and answer questions and concerns.
“I’d like to to also amplify that the fact that so many different people have made this (project) possible across our (AHCH) departments. I mean we have executive assistants and finance associates jumping in to help, which is amazing and really speaks to the importance of access. Thank you to everyone for your effort,” said Katherine.
Once a coronavirus recovery rebate is secured and in the possession of an individual, the next barrier to overcome is cashing it. If you are aware of any community banking partners willing to help people experiencing homelessness cash their stimulus payments, please contact AHCH.
Advocating for people who are experiencing homelessness, listening to their needs, and promoting their empowerment towards self-sufficiency is the cornerstone of the AHCH mission.
Additional technical support with United Way’s website is available through AHCH at 505-767-1186.