Nan Sundeen - Human Services Director
The discontinuation of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC) this week could create hardship for some of the more than 1600 Pitkin County residents who are receiving the added $600/week benefit.
“While some will continue to receive regular unemployment the loss of the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation will be dramatic for individuals and families who have been dependent on it for the past 2-3 months,” said Pitkin County Human Services Director, Nan Sundeen.
Congress is considering future relief programs but there is no replacement at this time.
Officials say the end of the additional weekly benefit will likely create an injection of workers into available unfilled jobs, while dramatically reducing incomes for those in low-paying occupations potentially increasing demand on local social programs.
“Pitkin County Human Services stands ready to assist those who may find themselves in dire straits with the end of this program and we are also likely to refer many to other state and local relief programs,” Sundeen said.
In addition, the Colorado ban on evictions has also been lifted and there is concern locally about unemployed residents having difficulty paying rent. Statistics indicate that while some people have gone back to work a large number remain unemployed.
“Resort economies were among the hardest hit by the pandemic,” Sundeen said. “In mid-March you may remember, the ski areas suddenly shut down, our restaurants, bars and hotels closed. Construction came to a halt. Employees who were relying on one of the busiest months of the ski season were caught short. Granted, some have been able to get back to work, as our tourist economy struggles to recover but there are still many businesses operating at 50% capacity and employees still out of work.”
Resources are available including rental assistance from the State Landlord/Tenant relief program. In addition, school resources centers are working to support families with dependent children in the home and Catholic Charities [(970) 384-2060] is working to support single adults. Households with children in the Aspen School District that need assistance should contact Aspen Family Connections [(970) 205-7025] while those families in RE-1 should contact the Roaring Fork Schools Family Resource Center [(970) 384-9500].
Pitkin County Human Services is available to assist with Medicaid, SNAP, Child Care assistance and other financial programs. To learn more or apply for these programs, please visit Colorado PEAK. If you are over the income limit for the Medicaid program, you may be eligible for tax credits to help offset the premiums of a health insurance plan purchased through Connect for Health Colorado.