'Going to change our whole lives': Child tax credit helps lift family out of poverty

"They're going to be getting $12,000 a year, starting next week."


Melinda Ramirez, her husband, and her four kids — all younger than 17 — have lived through fires, homelessness and uncertainty.

"After the fire, we had to live off all our credit cards and we were in a lot of credit card debt. We had a lot of credit card debt and high interest rates, we were never going to get out from under it, ever," Ramirez said.

But through it all, she's also had help.

"It's going to change everything. It's going to change our whole lives," she said.

After losing their home to a fire about five years ago and a nine-year wait, the family moved into public housing, and Ramirez gained a new job.

"Being homeless then is what led to my job that I'm working now, working with the homeless," Ramirez said.

Then the pandemic hit.

"I had plenty of work to do during the pandemic, but my husband didn't. He does landscaping," she said.

Ramirez said stimulus payments helped.

"We never would have gotten out of that credit card debt, except for the stimulus checks, it saved us," she said.

Even more assistance is on its way.

"They're going to be getting $12,000 a year, starting next week," said Rep. Josh Harder, a Democrat who represents south San Joaquin County and Stanislaus County, which are both about a 90-minute drive from San Francisco, California.

"This child tax credit is all about leveling the playing field and making sure that no matter where you were born, you have that same access to opportunity," Harder said.

Ramirez says with the extra money comes a potentially brighter future.

"It's going to put us just into that bracket where we can afford to live somewhere outside of government housing. It means we're going to have a home," she said.

The expanded child tax credit is only a one-year increase. Congressman Harder said he is working toward a bipartisan effort to extend the credit and make it permanent.

The IRS' non-filer tool may be found here.