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The Biden administration is preparing to release $5 billion in new housing vouchers, approved in the latest COVID relief bill. The goal is to help 70,000 low-income families at risk of homelessness due to the pandemic.

But, even in the best of times, it can be hard to use such vouchers, which allow recipients to pay one-third of their income on rent, with the government covering the rest. Many landlords won't accept them and the vouchers are often hard to come by. Some families have to wait years to get one.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Davon-Marie Grimmer has been struggling to get help for more than year for her cousin, Kent Clark. Sometimes, when he calls from prison, he asks to speak with relatives who are no longer alive. Sometimes, he forgets the name of his cell mate.

"As far as I know, he hasn't received any medical attention for the dementia, and he's just so vulnerable in there," Grimmer said. "He's 66 years old. He can't take care of himself."

In 2018, then-House Speaker Paul Ryan sat next to his friend and ally Rep. Elise Stefanik and predicted a bright future for the New York Republican.

"This is the future of the Republican Party, the future of our country — people like Elise," Ryan told CBS.

With Stefanik poised to become the newest member of the House GOP leadership team, his statement seems a prescient one.

Even amid the global pandemic, Idaho's unemployment rate has been hovering around 3%. In the capital city, Boise, for-hire signs are posted at grocery stores, restaurants, and at Pete Amador's home health care agency.

His latest ad even offers a thousand dollar signing bonus. Amador could easily hire 50 more people right now, if they would apply. There is a long wait list of elderly clients.

"People are calling hourly asking for help," he says.

With college classes going online because of COVID-19, Joe Spofforth put his double-major in political economies and educational studies on hold to move West and find work. When the pandemic was over, he'd go back.

"You can get real into this stuff," the 21-year-old Ohioan says, grinning at his mountain surroundings as his fellow Montana Conservation Corps crew members saw, chop and lop branches and logs away from a dirt path. Trail work.

Standing, unshowered, in the barcode shade of a tall stand of lodgepole pine in northwest Montana, he says it's a bit scary, though.

The COVID-19 vaccination operation at the Flathead County fairgrounds in northwestern Montana can dole out 1,000 doses in seven hours. But demand has plummeted recently, down to fewer than 70 requests for the shots a day. So, the county dropped its mass vaccination offerings as May began — from three clinics a week to two. Though most of those eligible in the county haven't yet gotten the jab, the takers are few.

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