City of St. Louis unveils progress report of Direct Cash Assistance program

The $5 million program is a product of the city’s $500 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding.
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 7:38 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Ten months after the announcement of a stimulus initiative offering one-time $500 payments to city households, the city said more than 9,000 people have benefited from the program.

The Direct Cash Assistance program was created as part of the city’s initial appropriation of $135 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding. The appropriation was approved by the Board of Aldermen in August 2021 and the city launched the online application portal in December.

On Wednesday, Mayor Tishaura Jones, along with Treasurer Adam Layne, outlined preliminary data and analysis from the 9,123 households helped through the program thus far. With around 100 additional payments to distribute, the program is set to end at the end of September.

“We often talk about using American Rescue Plan dollars to make a difference St. Louisans can see and feel,” Jones said. “This program touched the lives of thousands of working families across our city.”

According to initial data, the city said the median income for affected families is $1,112 per month. To qualify, families must earn at or under 80 percent of the area median income. Additionally, they must have suffered lost income due to the pandemic.

“I was delinquent on mortgage, so with that $500 payment, it allowed me to pay my mortgage and get out of fear of losing my home,” said Richelle Jones, who lives in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood.

The city also partnered with Missouri Jobs with Justice to survey participants on their experiences. According to the city, residents reported a high need for financial support and shared they could use the money for basic necessities.

“With that $500 I took care of bills, got groceries, paid car insurance and did whatever I could to make that money stretch,” said Qristyl Frazier.

The city said its data suggests top uses for the money including food, utilities and gas. However, that does not include people who conducted ATM withdrawals and money transfers, which accounted for a large percentage of people.

News 4 asked the city for its preliminary data to verify its claims but was told the data is not public, ahead of a more comprehensive report set to be published in the next few months.