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Arizona charities, aid programs bracing as federal unemployment help ends

With the $600 extended payment for unemployment assistance set to expire Friday, agencies that aid those in need are bracing for the impact of increasing demand.

PHOENIX — With the $600 extended payment for unemployment assistance set to expire Friday, agencies that aid those in need are bracing for the impact of increasing demand.

It will literally take an act of Congress to extend the portion of the CARES Act that offers a $600 boost to each state’s weekly unemployment payment. In Arizona, which ranks 49th in the country for unemployment assistance amount, the maximum weekly unemployment check will transition from $840 back to its pre-pandemic amount of $240.

“We’re anticipating we’re going to see more people at United Food Bank; that’s a significant amount of money,” said United Food Bank CEO, Dave Richins.

Richins says the food bank is ready, though. They have been anticipating the presumed increase in need and have been stocking up in preparation. Although, he and everyone who works and volunteers for United Food Banks is hoping for the best.

“What we really hope is that people are going to get into the job market and there are going to be jobs available. They can go back to work and go to grocery stores and feed their families, that’s the ideal thing.” Richins said.

While Congress debates extending the benefits, Valley charities who are overwhelmed, are expecting more of the same.

“We’re expecting to see more of the same which is increased demand for our Rent and Utility assistance services,” Said Marisol Saldivar, a spokesperson for The Society of St. Vincent de Paul. “We’ve seen an overwhelming amount; I mean hundreds of calls a day from families calling into our Rent and Utilities assistance line.”

St. Vincent de Paul, who aids with food, run shelters and provides rent and utility help, says they hope those who still have a job and income can pitch in help those who do not.

“If you do have some margin in your budget and there’s any way you can give to support another family and keep them in their home, St, Vincent de Paul greatly appreciates that support right now,” Saldivar said.

And don’t forget food banks are always willing to help. “We would much rather you come and get food assistance and be able to use the cash that you might have- as limited as that may be- to pay your rent, to pay your utility bill and let us provide food. Food is the easiest way for us to be able to support folks that are struggling.” Richins said.

If you are in need of assistance, please reach out to United Food Bank.

St. Vincent de Paul says the best way to start the process with them is to call 602-850-6948 for their Rent and Utilities Assistance line.

RELATED: What to do now if you received unemployment benefits you didn't apply for