Houston-based investor and entrepreneur Tom Castro feared some Latino households might miss out on the money they receive under the latest pandemic relief package, and initially helped the Ramirez family find more than $ 20,000.
Then he helped the family who own a restaurant realize that the paycheck protection program allowed them to borrow thousands of dollars more for their employees’ payroll. It is a loan, but there are mild rules for forgiving the loan. That gave them over $ 100,000.
The news baffled the husband and wife, who have four children under the age of 18 and preferred not to be interviewed. The family and Castro met through his charter school work.
“You were skeptical. They were skeptical, ”Castro said of the Ramirezes’ reaction when he summarized everything for them. “They said, ‘This is a loan, right?’ No, it’s a gift. ”
The Ramirez family raised other concerns. They hadn’t yet submitted their 2020 taxes. They thought the aid was for people receiving food stamps or welfare. There was a factor of pride and fear that their future in the country – they are legally resident and hoping for citizenship – could be jeopardized.
Many immigrant families have stopped using or staying away from public services, even if they were eligible, for fear that changes in Trump administrative policy could jeopardize their chances of legal residency or citizenship. And the first aid kit left out many immigrants paying taxes.
“They are immigrants, and the word on the street was that immigrants were not eligible for stimulus checks” because Trump said they couldn’t attend, “Castro said.
A majority of American families will receive money from the latest aid package, but Castro and others fear that some Latinos may not seek all legal offers for reasons similar to those raised by the Ramirez family.
Latinos were disproportionately affected by the pandemic – economically and in terms of deaths and illnesses.
Hispanics had just regained income and prosperity to the level they had before the Great Recession in 2008. Failure to get the aid could slow not only their recovery but also the economic recovery.
“This could be the largest single injection of capital into the Latino community – by a factor of ten – in history,” Castro said. If all Latinos were to claim what they are entitled to in the pandemic package and paycheck loan program, the total could be nearly $ 60 billion, he said.
At the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Summit last week, President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen welcomed the potential of Latino families and business owners to fuel the economic recovery due to the proportion of American Latino workers and the number of smaller businesses Create Latinos.
Democrats made the stimulus payments the way they didn’t because they thought all meals were missing, but to stimulate the economy, Castro said.
Many Latino families don’t have the luxury of sticking to payments or putting the $ 1,400 in savings or 401 (k) accounts, Castro said. They will spend every penny because they have to and “they will pay taxes and sales taxes and help create jobs,” he said.
Each member of the Ramirez family is eligible for a $ 1,400 stimulus check – a total of $ 8,400 for the six family members. Married couples filing together and earning less than $ 150,000 will each receive $ 1,400, as will their loved ones under the age of 17.
In addition, three Ramirez children are entitled to an additional $ 3,000 paid monthly, and their child under 6 is entitled to $ 3,600. In total, that’s $ 21,000 in cash benefits.
The monthly allowances for the children, if so made, would be made through a revision of the child tax credit.
The White House has estimated that 85 percent of Americans will receive a payment.
It’s been a tough year
For Claudia Gonzalez, 49, who worked as Castro’s assistant for health reasons before she left, the additional money for her children will be of great help. The family had a rough year in the pandemic.
You missed the first round of the $ 600 checks because your husband was out of legal residence and did not have a Social Security number at the time. He is now a legal permanent residence and she is a citizen, as are her children.
Gonzalez said the couple will have to let go of three of the four employees at their husband’s “very small” commercial and residential landscaping company. Some hotel customers whose rooms were vacant didn’t pay him for months of work.
When one of their business trucks broke down, they used the truck their son had bought with savings from Christmas and birthday gifts. They tried to get a $ 25,000-30,000 loan through the payment protection program, but couldn’t get through the red tape.
Last week, Biden extended the deadline for applying for paycheck protection loans to May 31st.
Gonzalez said she and her husband would reapply and expect the worst. She too was reluctant to take money.
“People painted Latinos as people with outstretched hands,” she said. “There are a lot of Latinos out there who are doing everything in their power not to go to the handout.”
The paycheck protection loans can make a difference in rebuilding Latin American prosperity.
Juan Proaño, founder of Plus Three, a technology company that supports nonprofits, said the company lost more than 30 percent of its sales in the second quarter of last year due to the pandemic.
Despite three attempts, he was unable to obtain a paycheck protection loan through his bank, Bank of America. He eventually got a loan through PayPal’s Loan Builder program.
“The money is available, but people have to use it.”
And that’s the challenge of making sure Latinos are informed of what’s theirs despite cultural hesitation and opportunities to disqualify themselves, Castro said.
Ramiro Cavazos, president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in the United States, said the organization had made grants to many Hispanic chambers across the country. The grants were then awarded to Latin American-owned companies. The board is also trying to help companies get the money available to them under the paycheck protection program.
“We’re a community that believes in comebacks,” said Cavazos. “It’s part of our DNA as a community.”
Castro suggested mobilizing students, churches, Latino groups, and employers with large Latino staff to make sure Latinos get the money they deserve.
“This is a bit like the vaccination program,” Castro said. “The vaccine is available, the money is available, but people have to use it or it won’t work.”
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