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The massive $2 trillion CARES Act — which sent households one-time payments and boosted unemployment checks with an additional $600 a week through July — helped keep millions afloat, but more than 8 million people have been forced into poverty since the aid ended. “The relief was temporary, and much of it has now expired, so now we’re seeing poverty rise again,” says Megan Curran, a researcher at the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University. “We know that families can be protected again, but it does require action at the federal level.”

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