Release: Legislative plan is a good first step, with more to be done

Families need more help with food, child care, health insurance, other essentials


HONOLULU, June 19, 2020 — The joint legislative proposal to spend $635 million in federal relief funds is a good first step, and the Hawaiʻi Working Families Coalition is urging the state to make further improvements to help families hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

“We appreciate the leadership’s proposal, which addresses many of the major concerns facing children and families,” said Gavin Thornton, Executive Director of Hawaiʻi Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice. “The funding for rental assistance is exactly what families need. We’re also glad they recognized the need for direct financial assistance through unemployment benefits, along with assistance for child care and food.”

The Working Families Coalition is looking forward to working with the legislature and governor to deliver additional relief that families desperately need.

“The extra $100-per-week in unemployment benefits will help many families, but many more will not be eligible, like independent contractors who can currently receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance,” said Deborah Zysman, Executive Director of Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network .  “Also, children and families will need much more support for food and child care, and many have lost their health insurance. Our kūpuna are still vulnerable, and many immigrants haven’t received any government support.”

Earlier this week, the Working Families Coalition released a comprehensive plan to spend $362 million of the CARES Act money on food and housing assistance, health care, child care, domestic violence response, kūpuna wellness checks, and more. It also includes $11 million to support immigrants who are ineligible for the federal stimulus checks and unemployment insurance.

The need is clear: By the end of the year, 59% of Hawaiʻi households will struggle to make ends meet, according to the Aloha United Way ALICE report released yesterday. This means an additional 35,000 households will face severe financial hardship. Many other states have already started getting CARES Act funding to those who need it most, according to research from the Working Families Coalition.

Media contact: Ryan Catalani
[email protected]
(808) 531-5502 ext. 4

Read or download the coalition’s plan: 

Download high-resolution graphics: 

About the Working Families Coalition: The Working Families Coalition is a diversified group of 30+ nonprofit organizations, academia, unions and community advocates fighting for Hawaii's families through policy, advocacy, and education. For more information, visit

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