Where to Find Financial Help During the Coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic has touched nearly every part of our daily lives, but much of the collective fear and anxiety that millions of Americans are experiencing is related to finances. How will rent get paid? What about credit card bills or student loans? In fact, a recent survey of more than 1,200 Americans found that they are more concerned about paying their bills than catching the coronavirus.
For the individuals and families who are living one paycheck to the next, small financial obstacles could now mean the difference between having a hot meal or a place to call home. In these stressful times, financial security can play a critical role in staying safe and healthy. Below, we lay out key resources on where to find help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
10 ways to get financial assistance
1. Food help during COVID-19
If you’re struggling to buy food that will keep you healthy and nourished, these organizations and programs can provide relief.
- Feeding America has 200 food banks across the US that help feed individuals and families in need. The organization provides this tool to find your local food bank.
- United Way Worldwide’s 2-1-1 program connects individuals with someone who can offer guidance on finding and paying for food, along with other essentials, during this difficult time.
- A number of chain restaurants and fast-food restaurants across the country are offering two-for-one deals to families during the pandemic. Some are also offering meals to children. See this list of free meals and food deals from restaurants.
- Through its network of more than 5,000 programs, Meals on Wheels operates in almost every community in the nation. The nonprofit offers meals at a sliding scale.
- The United States Department of Agriculture provides a list of government programs that offer financial assistance for food.
2. Coronavirus financial support with mortgage payments
For the scores of Americans who found themselves suddenly unemployed because of the COVID-19 outbreak, mortgage and rent payments are now a huge burden. Luckily, the government and mortgage lenders are stepping up to provide help.
A forbearance program announced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency offers homeowners options to delay monthly mortgage payments if the loan is owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks. During this deferment period, homeowners won’t face late fees, foreclosures, or delinquencies reported to credit bureaus.
If you think you’ll have trouble making your next mortgage payment, be sure to contact your loan servicer right away to discuss your options. Many companies are granting a good deal of leniency and loan modifications during the COVID-19 crisis. To find out what options credit unions in your state are offering, visit America’s Credit Unions.
3. Help with rent payments
For renters who are suffering lost wages, making rent can be near impossible. Thankfully, many states, counties, and cities have issued moratoriums on rent evictions lasting between 30-90 days. This means that landlords are not able to evict tenants who cannot pay rent during this period of time. For example, the governors of California and New York both issued executive orders on rent evictions. Here is a comprehensive list of other cities and states that have paused evictions amid the outbreak.
The best thing to do first is to speak with your landlord or property manager about your situation. Even if a moratorium doesn’t exist where you live, they may also still be able to work with you to avoid eviction or provide some sort of emergency rental assistance.
4. COVID-19 financial support through crowdfunding
Crowdfunding can be a valuable alternative to federal government relief packages if you need help right away but don’t know how to get coronavirus aid quickly. Through an online fundraiser, you can find emergency financial assistance and receive funds in your bank account typically much faster than through government programs.
For those who are financially secure, crowdfunding gives them a seamless way to help those impacted by COVID-19 and make a real difference. It’s never easy asking for help, but know that your friends, family, and even strangers want to lend a hand during this crisis. Whether you need help with out-of-pocket-medical expenses related to COVID-19 or you just need help with bills, online fundraising can make all the difference—and quickly.
Relief for small business owners
If you’re a small business owner who needs financial help during COVID-19, you can receive a $500 grant through GoFundMe’s Small Business Relief Fund. Read more about how to qualify for the grant on the Small Business Relief Initiative FAQ page. If you’re looking to fundraise for a favorite bar, restaurant, or other business in your community, learn more about how to help small businesses affected by the coronavirus.
- The Best Fundraising Tips for Small Businesses
- Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses: Seven Ways to Get Help
- These Are the Coronavirus Facts You Should Know
- How Restaurant Workers Impacted by Coronavirus Can Get Help
- Raise Funds With Gift Cards for Small Businesses on GoFundMe
- Creative Ways to Raise Revenue When a Business is Closed
5. COVID-19 financial assistance for individuals with unemployment
A record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance in a single week amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to The Wall Street Journal. Thankfully, states recognized the need for coronavirus relief for unemployed workers and have relaxed the standard rules about securing unemployment benefits. The federal government has created new guidelines for obtaining unemployment insurance amid COVID-19. These requirements vary greatly from state to state, so check the unemployment benefits in your state to find out what options exist for you.
Additionally, if you need to take sick leave or family leave for reasons related to COVID-19, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to give employees paid leave for these reasons, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s fact sheet.
6. Help with credit card payments
If you’re worried about your upcoming credit card bills, know that there many credit card companies are waiving monthly fees and overdraft charges, and some are offering payment deferrals. Reference this list of banks helping customers who are struggling to make payments during the COVID-19 crisis to find out what options are available to you. If you want help understanding all of your options, you can speak to credit counselors over the phone through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
7. Help with phone bills
Realizing how critical it is for everyone to stay connected throughout the coronavirus crisis, the Federal Communications Commission created the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. The pledge calls on broadband and telephone service providers to keep service to individuals and small businesses connected for the next 60 days, even if customers can’t pay their bills. The pledge also waives late fees and opens Wi-Fi hotspots to Americans. Over 550 companies have signed the pledge, and it is effective for the next 60 days.
Click on each individual provider to see what they’re doing to help customers:
8. Coronavirus financial assistance with utilities
Water is essential to hand-washing and basic sanitation, and many states, such as Texas, Connecticut, California, and New York, have halted utility shut-offs. Federal lawmakers are working to ensure that all states ban utility shut-offs during the pandemic. If you’re unable to pay upcoming utility bills, reach out to your utility company and find out what accommodations they’re making for customers during this time.
Though it may take longer to receive help through nonprofit organizations and government programs, these options exist as well. Modest Needs is a nonprofit that helps with short-term needs, such as utility bill payments, through its “self-sufficiency grants.” The government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps qualifying households pay their utility bills.
9. Help with student loan payments
Student loans can be a huge burden under normal circumstances, and they may also be even more difficult to pay down every month if you’re struggling because of the coronavirus. The U.S. Department of Education understands this and has automatically suspended all payments to federally-held student loans until September 30, 2020. It has also rolled out an automatic student loan interest waiver, according to Forbes. Several private lenders, like Sallie Mae and Navient, are offering similar options.
10. Help with owed taxes
For individuals who owe on their taxes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it has extended the deadline to pay federal income taxes or file taxes back to July 15, 2020. Individuals can delay making payments up to $1 million.
Find the COVID-19 financial help you need right away
In these uncertain times, know that you’re not alone in your struggles. With a GoFundMe, your community can show up to support you through the coronavirus crisis. You can create a fundraiser within minutes on our fundraising platform and begin using donations to pay for groceries, rent, or other bills within just a few days. Start fundraising for coronavirus today and get the help you need quickly.