The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of us one way or another. You may have lost your job or had your hours slashed. You could be working from home. You may be forced to teach your children their school lessons. One of your loved ones could have been diagnosed with the virus, been hospitalized with it or passed away due to it. You may have even had a confirmed case of the virus yourself! One thing holds true for everyone though: we could all use a little help right now. The help we need varies and can range from financial help, mental and emotional help, childcare help, unemployment help and any other type of help you can imagine. How can you find the assistance you need? Where do you even start to look for this assistance? The list of resources is constantly evolving and ever changing, but here are some COVID-19 assistance and resources that can help bring some clarity to an extremely challenging and frightening situation.
Financial Aid ResourcesYou probably have received a $1200 stimulus check from the government’s $2.2 trillion CARES Act already for COVID-19 relief. While it’s a nice gesture, let’s be honest, $1200 isn’t going to cut it when it comes to rent or mortgages, bills and normal living expenses. One of the first places you should look for financial aid due to COVID-19 issues is actually your personal bank. Many banks across the country have put programs in place to assist their consumers during this time of need. Some credit card companies are doing the same thing! You should be able to find the details on each bank or credit card company’s website’s home page. Unemployment benefits have also been boosted by the government during this time. Typically, someone can only be on unemployment for up to 26 weeks, but due to COVID-19, you can be on unemployment for up to 39 weeks. Freelancers and gig workers can also qualify for unemployment. If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 or you’ve been quarantined and can’t work due to the virus, you could receive added unemployment benefits for up to four months at double the typical unemployment payout. If you need help filing for unemployment, you can find assistance via your state’s Unemployment Assistance Agency or the U.S. Department of Labor’s Unemployment Assistance Page.
Job-Specific ProgramsMany job fields have organizations or programs that have developed COVID-19 relief funds. Here are a few programs to help some specific job fields who have been the hardest hit by the pandemic.
- The Bartender Emergency Assistance Program can give bartenders emergency relief during this time.
- The Freelancers Relief Fund offers up to $1,000 per freelance household for essential expenses.
- The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation is helping restaurant workers during this difficult time.
Internet AssistanceSince many of us are working from home or have children participating in e-learning, having access to the Internet is critical! But not everyone has the luxury of having this access. There are some cable companies that are helping to improve this access though. First, check on who your local cable and Internet provider is. Once you find that out, contact the company to see how it’s assisting its consumers during this time. Here are a few providers that are doing their parts to help their consumer bases:
- Comcast is offering two (2) free months of Internet service to new customers if you apply for its services by June 30, 2020.
- AT&T has a program to help low-income families gain access to the Internet at all times, not just during a pandemic.
- Verizon Wireless also has a program in place to waive fees for sixty (60) days due to pandemic damages.
Mental Health and Domestic Violence AssistanceIf you’re having a difficult time mentally dealing with everything the COVID-19 pandemic can throw at you, know you’re not alone in this fight. If you need someone confidential/anonymous to talk to, don’t hesitate to reach out to the following programs:
- Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741-741)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (call 1-800-273-8255)