ISSUE 82 | October 21, 2020
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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
To jumpstart relief program, Wolf gives landlords more flexibility to collect unpaid rent
Governor Tom Wolf has adjusted Pennsylvania’s rent assistance program, allowing landlords to collect unpaid rent from tenants after receiving state relief money.

Previously, landlords were required to forgive rent in excess of $750 per month, but they can now establish payment plans with their tenants to collect additional rent.

Housing advocates have stated that this change may lead to increased debt and higher eviction rates. 

Luzerne County Cares Commission targeting needs of homeless residents
The Luzerne County Cares Commission was launched in August to meet the needs of vulnerable residents.

For its first major project, the commission will organize a food and clothing drive while connecting people in need to housing, employment, and education services.

Attendees at the drive will also be surveyed in order to better understand the needs and barriers they face. 

With unemployment hotline overloaded and stimulus on hold, PA boosts chatbot 90x
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s phone hotline for unemployment compensation has been unable to accommodate the number of residents seeking benefits.

To help meet the increased demand, the commonwealth is expanding the capabilities of its new chatbot feature, which offers virtual assistance to Pennsylvanians asking about unemployment compensation.

The upgrade will allow the chatbot to handle 50,000 simultaneous inquiries by the end of the year.

From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
Report details lessons learned from early implementation of Pandemic-EBT
In March, federal policymakers established the Pandemic EBT program to help feed the 30 million low-income children who qualified for free or reduced-price lunch at school.

Preliminary evidence suggests that P-EBT has significantly reduced food insecurity.

A report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities examines the program’s effectiveness so far and identifies some areas for improvement. 

Medical residents learn to treat the growing health issues resulting from climate change
There has been a recent push – supported by the American Medical Association – to ensure that medical professionals are prepared to meet the changing health care needs associated with climate change.

Public health experts have begun to develop a framework for teaching medical residents about the effects of increasingly frequent wildfires and hurricanes, the spread of West Nile virus, and other climate-related issues. 

Proximity helps cities and rural communities weather the economic crisis
Small businesses throughout the United States – and particularly in rural areas – have been struggling to survive during the pandemic.

A recent study from the Brookings Institution found that those with proximity to other businesses, resources, and amenities may have better chances of surviving the current crisis.

This is the case for rural and urban communities.

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