SAN ANTONIO – Struggling to provide for her two small daughters on a part-time salary, Rosa Esquivel admits she wasn’t aware how President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package could someday affect her life.
But when Esquivel learned it would involve $250 monthly payments from the now expanded child tax credit, she said, “Oh, that’s pretty good.”
What had a been a yearly $1,000 tax credit is now $3,000 for every child ages 6-17 and $3,600 for every child under age 6.
Asked how she would spend those extra $250 monthly, Esquivel didn’t hesitate.
“Stay up to date on my bills. Buy healthy food for my girls,” she said.
Esquivel’s financial strategy came as no surprise to Sandra Morales, who is Esquivel’s employer at the House of Neighborly Service, a social service agency on the West Side for 100 years.
Morales said many of her clients would use the money much the same way.
“To put food on the table, to pay their bills, their electricity, their water and to have a roof over their heads,” she said.
After more than decade serving the city’s poorest families, Morales said she knows skeptics believe the direct payments from the government won’t be used as intended.
“It’s easy when you’re on the other side to assume things until you’re put in that situation,” Morales said. “Ultimately, as a parent, you put the needs of your child first.”
Morales said it’s been her experience that the people who come to the House of Neighborly Service aren’t looking for handouts. She said they truly want a “hand up” when they need it most.
In fact, Esquivel said it wouldn’t bother her if the one-year expanded child tax credit does not become permanent.
“I mean, it can get pretty tough, but I’ve always managed to pull through,” she said.
Esquivel said even at her lowest point during the pandemic, she still managed to get up every day to go to work.
“Do what I have to do, stay on my feet,” she said.
Morales also said she believes the expanded child tax credit will help dramatically reduce the child poverty and food insecurity that can lead to intellectual disabilities and less opportunities.
It will be “a good start for many families,” she said.
Morales said the House of Neighborly Service’s mission is, “Encourage. Educate. Empower.”
“We want people to have a better life,” she said.