Springs Rescue Mission President & CEO Jack Briggs was among a handful of Coloradans Tuesday to attend an event in which U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris discussed the details and benefits of the Biden administration’s recent $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan — a COVID-19 relief package designed to stimulate economic recovery and growth.
“We’re here for one specific reason,” Harris said during the event. “We want to get the word out about the help that is available, so we make sure people take advantage of the help.”
Harris, accompanied by husband Doug Emhoff and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, listened to struggling Colorado small business owners and other representatives about the challenges posed by the pandemic as well as their hopes for future economic aid.
Briggs characterized the small meeting at Denver restaurant Maria Empanada as a “very successful engagement on important issues.”
He personally thanked Vice President Harris for the Biden administration’s expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program, which allowed the Mission to compensate frontline staff members with hazard pay throughout the pandemic. He also acknowledged expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit programs as “anti-poverty measures that will prevent many families and individuals from becoming homeless in the first place.”
Briggs was able to “give a full rundown of Springs Rescue Mission and the services it provides as a low-barrier homeless shelter and gospel ministry,” including a brief summary of the organization’s commitment to Christian faith as well as its work to help guests address their housing, health and work needs.
“We discussed the importance of welcoming anyone who needs help overcoming homelessness, poverty and addiction — providing dignity to our neighbors in need,” Briggs said. “The idea that we are working to restore a feeling of value and that these individuals really do matter — both to God and to us. That message was very well received.”
Harris responded by thanking Springs Rescue Mission.
“We appreciate what you are doing for the least of these,” said the vice president.
The conversation between Briggs and Vice President Harris also delved into the Mission’s efforts to create and maintain a network of transitional and permanent supportive housing. This model incorporates the Biden administration’s “Housing First” approach, as well as a more holistic approach to provide wrap-around services for men and women in need.
“She has been a really big proponent of wrap-around services in the past and I think she really values our unique perspective on that aspect of what we do at the Mission,” Briggs said.
The event also provided Briggs the opportunity to thank state and national leaders for providing the Mission access to COVID-19 vaccines for homeless individuals. The vaccine was offered to shelter guests and the wider homeless population last week through Peak Vista Community Health Centers.
The Biden administration estimates that 400,000 small businesses have closed because of the pandemic, and millions more are barely surviving.
U.S. President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law last week. It features stimulus payments of $1,400 for most single taxpayers, $2,800 for married couples filing jointly and $1,400 per dependent with the payments phasing out for people with higher incomes. It also includes additional federal unemployment benefits of $300 a week through early September, plus $350 billion for state and local governments and around $50 billion for additional COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts.
The Denver stop was the second on the administration’s “Help is Here” tour, which began for Harris on Monday in Las Vegas.
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