Stimulating the economy
Many San Mateo County residents have begun to receive their stimulus checks from the federal government. They come with the president's signature. Sarah Wright / Review

Recently, some Coastside residents got a much-needed boost: stimulus checks, up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child, as a result of a federal government relief package passed mid-April. The checks are aimed at helping families weather the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including widespread job losses.

Moss Beach resident Sadie Jackson says the stimulus money will help. She is using her check to help pay for rent and groceries.

Jackson normally works as a nanny, but she isn’t working during the shelter-in-place order while parents are at home with their kids and visiting other houses feels unsafe. Her husband, who normally works doing in-person sales across the Bay Area, is out of work too.

The couple live on her mother’s property, but her mom got laid off from her dental office job, so even the county’s moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent during the pandemic can’t help. Deferring rent isn’t an option for them.

“It’s just day by day right now,” Jackson said.

Like Jackson, people across the country are spending their stimulus money on necessities. According to a Gallup poll that surveyed Americans before the checks were sent out, 35 percent of U.S. adults intended to use the check to pay bills. More than a quarter said they’d save or invest the money, and around 16 percent said it would go toward essentials like food or gas. Of the people surveyed, those who reported lower incomes were more likely to spend the check on bills or essentials rather than save or invest it.

Many are still waiting for their check — and it could be weeks depending on how taxpayers filed with the IRS — and residents who are undocumented won’t recieve the money at all. For others, the check feels like an opportunity to do good during a time of need. The Gallup poll found that 3 percent of those surveyed said they would donate the money.

Montara resident Ravn Miller is one local looking to help out. She said she plans to use the stimulus money to over-tip local workers and even to help pay the fines of people, like cleaners and gardeners, who have continued to work despite being deemed nonessential. When it’s time to go out and eat at restaurants, Miller hopes to give part of the $2,400 she and her husband received as tips to restaurant workers.

“That’s some good cash for some hard-working, self-employed small business people and people maybe not covered by unemployment,” Miller wrote in a message to the Review.

Jackson said she and her husband both have applied for unemployment — joining the millions of Californians turning to the benefits for the first time in their lives — and are looking for other remote work to get them through the pandemic. Jackson said they’re living off their savings, but without additional income it won’t last forever.

“This isn't sustainable for the long term for us,” Jackson said. “We could maybe afford to be out of our jobs until June. June, I'd say, we’re going to run out of money.”

For now, they’re taking the shelter-in-place order extremely seriously. Jackson is immunocompromised, so she’s been going on walks early in the day to avoid others and cleaning vigorously. She said her family and her faith are helping get her through.

“You can’t worry too much about the future,” Jackson said. “You can only do what’s best right now, so that’s what we’re focusing on.”

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