As part of the United States government coronavirus stimulus package, many people have started receiving $1200 in their bank accounts from the IRS. It’s true that the check is not a sustainable solution for the millions of unemployed people in the country and it’s also true that for many in our community, the check is vital and necessary in order to remain housed and fed. It’s also true that some of us do not need $1200 from the government – we are still employed, we are working from home, we are perhaps even saving money right now if we are still salaried and yet aren’t using our disposable income on the usual things we spent money on before quarantine.
If you received a $1200 stimulus check from the government and don’t need it to support yourself or your family, consider redistributing your money to people who actually do need cash, today, to survive in the very literal sense of the word. Even giving away half your check can make a significant difference for someone else! I want to shout out Stef, Autostraddle’s former Vapid Fluff editor, for bringing this idea to our “office” Slack channel today, and also Lucy Diavolo and Erin Taylor who are the two people I first saw discussing this on Twitter. When I started discussing this with my friends I learned that multiple pals had already had this idea and were already redistributing their funds, and it feels really good and uplifting to be in community with people who put their government bailout money where their collective politics are. I’m proud of us for continuing to take care of each other.
Also it should go without saying: there is no shame in needing this money and needing to hold onto it for yourself. Please do not read this post as a demand or directive to give away money you cannot afford to give away. This post is specifically for folks who are materially comfortable and do not need an extra $1200 to live – if you can afford to give some or all of your stimulus check to someone else, that’s amazing and you should do it. If you can’t, please disregard!
Six Ways You Can Redistribute Your $1200 To Support People Who Really Need It
1. Donate to bail out funds
Prisons have always been a public health crisis, but the need to get people out of jail has become dire during this global pandemic. TIME magazine reported that “New York City jails are the epicenter of the epicenter” and raising funds for bail as well as supporting individuals and their families once they are released from prison is the most concrete way we can fight this dehumanizing system and save lives. I have been donating to and recommending COVID Bail Out NYC and Let My People Go, but any local bail out fundraiser is a great option to support.
2. Donate to neighborhood mutual aid funds
Since the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the United States in March, organized mutual aid pods have popped up in neighborhoods that have always supported each other and neighborhoods where folks used to not know anyone else’s name alike. We published a resource last month (that I am slowly continuing to update – forgive the lags, I am but a single person trying my best) that includes directories to super local mutual aid opportunities and instructions about how to organize your own neighborhood if there isn’t already infrastructure in place. If your pod has a Venmo or PayPal set up, donate to that.
3. Support sex workers
Sex workers are targeted and criminalized by the government at the best of times, and were explicitly left out of the stimulus relief package for coronavirus. Use your stimulus check money to rectify this injustice – here’s a list of regional specific relief funds for sex workers, and here’s a fund specifically created to provide Black Trans sex workers with survival kits. You can also hire sex workers and pay them for their labor and their knowledge, and as always make sure you’re paying for your porn.
4. Support undocumented immigrants
Another group of people who are left out of the government stimulus package altogether are undocumented immigrants. Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights has set up an emergency relief fund for COVID-19 – donations will be used exclusively as cash assistance and food relief for immigrant families and will not be used at all for operational expenses for the organization. It is understandably challenging to find ways to directly support undocumented immigrants, but if you are plugged into local organizing in your community and know how to directly give to individuals that is an ideal situation. Additionally, here is an incomplete list of national and local relief funds for immigrant communities, and here’s a document from Immigrants Rising about how to provide tangible support for immigrant communities during COVID-19. And thank you to Christine Miranda for suggesting Movimiento Cosecha’s National Undocumented Worker Fund, another resource to donate directly to undocumented immigrants.
5. Shop at local businesses
Many small businesses are struggling through this unprecedented moment, and every small business owner I know is scared they’re not gonna make it. Local small businesses, especially queer-owned and POC-owned, need our help more than ever. If you’re not able to give away your stimulus money but still want to use it to support your community, buy groceries from your local farm, buy your girlfriend a birthday gift from your local sex toy shop, or treat your friends to a new book from your favorite independent bookshop.
6. Give to your friends and community members
Venmo or CashApp your friends who got laid off and haven’t been able to get through to the unemployment line. Buy your neighbors groceries. Literally just give your money away – with no strings and no expectations and no fanfare – to people you know who need it more than you do.
If you have donated somewhere specific that is not included in this list, or if you have other ideas about how to use your stimulus money (or other disposable income you may have) toward redistribution of material resources and community care, please share in the comments!