Santa Rosa groups help homeless register for $1,200 government stimulus checks

22 June 2020

Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat

In oppressive Thursday afternoon heat and with little fanfare, they broke through the $100,000 barrier.

Under a pair of tents pitched on Challenger Way in west Santa Rosa, a cadre of do-gooders helped vulnerable people overcome the small challenges preventing them from collecting a large windfall from Uncle Sam.

“Keep an eye out for an email from the IRS in the next couple days,” Azura Star told a 30-something man in a flat-brimmed ballcap sitting across the table from her.

Star is a volunteer for the Squeaky Wheel Bicycle Coalition, a Santa Rosa group of homeless advocates. Working with three other groups — Sonoma County Acts of Kindness, Mask Sonoma and DSA Northbay — they’ve spent several weeks signing up their “shelterless neighbors” to receive the $1,200 stimulus payments most eligible people already received from the U.S. government. For people experiencing homelessness, said Squeaky Wheel founder Marcos Ramirez, seemingly minor challenges — charging their phones, accessing the Internet and figuring out a mailing address to which the feds can send the check — can loom as “massive” obstacles.

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