Just about every one of us will be financially impacted by COVID-19, to varying degrees. Of course, some will be hit harder than others. Like always, those who are already at an economic disadvantage will suffer the most–those who run small businesses, hourly workers, tipped workers, freelancers, and anyone participating in the gig economy. Even many who were salaried and felt relatively confident in their job stability have been laid off with no prospects for future work. Unemployment applications skyrocketed as the economy froze and the stock market tanked, with 3.3 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits the week of March 21–quadruple the record set in 1982.
But these big economy numbers mean little to those in the trenches who are already on a shoestring budget–folks just want to pay their rent or mortgage and keep their kids fed. This is why United Way Worldwide established the COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund. The fund, supported by donations, will provide vulnerable populations much-needed financial and social support during this pandemic. Their site contains state-specific information about what local branches of United Way are doing to help within their communities, and resources to contact them if you are in need of assistance.
Additionally, below is a list of various organizations and resources, sorted alphabetically by job type or subject of need.
NOTE: If you are in a position to donate to United Way, please do so HERE.
The USBG National Charity Foundation has loans available for bartenders who may be out of work.
House cleaners, nannies, and in-home care workers can find assistance at the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
This state-by-state directory provides contact information if you need to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). You can also call 211 to seek immediate assistance. Additionally, Feeding America and Foodpantries.org list food pantries, soup kitchens, and subsidized groceries in your area.
This website offers a list of various resources for artists and in addition hosts a series of online sessions geared toward informing and assisting freelance artists. Americans for the Arts also has a sizable list of resources available for artists looking for assistance.
General Financial Assistance:
If you need help with essentials like food and household bills, contact your local 211 or search for food pantries or food distribution sites. Please note that financial assistance is not available through every 211, but in most cases you can be directed to alternative sources of assistance. Additionally, Zenefits has compiled an extensive, state-by-state list of available assistance programs.
For members of the Queer community, them gathered an extensive list of resources for both national and local-level support.
If you are struggling to pay your mortgage, many banks are also offering hardship assistance; this website contains a list of banks who have such programs in place, and the contact information for each one.
Starting on March 17, United Way Worldwide partnered up with DoorDash to facilitate grocery and meal deliveries. Through the end of April, independent restaurants in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Australia can sign up for DoorDash and Caviar and pay zero commissions for 30 days. DoorDash notes on their site, “This is not a deferral of fees, nor will merchants be asked to pay anything back.”
Restaurant Workers in California:
If you are a restaurant worker in California who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you have been quarantined, you are a caregiver to an immediate family member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or your restaurant has been closed, click here to apply for assistance from the California Restaurant Association Foundation.
Restaurant Workers with Children:
Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE) has funds available for restaurant workers diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are caring for someone in their household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Service Workers / Tipped Workers:
If you are a service worker or derive most of your income from tips, go to this website and fill out their form to apply for some financial relief. The site notes that they are both raising funds and distributing them at the same time, and that they are currently inundated with requests. So please be patient!
Small Business Owners:
The U.S. Small Business Administration has a variety of resources available from debt relief to Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Click here.
Self-employed workers, freelancers, people seeking part-time work, and those with limited work history may qualify for benefits underneath the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Click here to learn how to file for unemployment benefits in your state.
Another more informal way to seek help if you are hurting financially is to reach out to your local Facebook groups. I am a member of one that is specifically designed to help folks in small ways that make a big impact. Together, a few thousand of us have pooled funds to assist local community members with things like paying their utilities or rent, getting diapers, or even going grocery shopping for them and dropping the groceries on their doorstep. One member made a huge batch of homemade sanitizer and delivered it to a local healthcare facility. Another made hundreds of homemade masks. Churches and other local charitable organizations are often keeping an eye on these pages, too.
The pandemic has had a far-reaching financial impact on many of us, but there are resources available for immediate and longer-term assistance. And if your income hasn’t been affected, please consider extending a hand up to those who haven’t been as fortunate — whether it’s a donation to a relief fund or some groceries for your neighbor.
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