Where to Turn If COVID Puts You in Financial Straits

Government and non-profit organizations across the state are ready to help in this crisis

Note: We will update this regularly, but resources and policies are expanding rapidly to include more people and provide more assistance. There may be ones out there we haven’t found yet. Last update April 16.

As concerns around the novel coronavirus stall the economy, local government and service organizations are working to protect residents who can’t pay their bills because of the pandemic. The state government is providing up-to-date information on the spread of the virus here.

Below is a list of services and programs Washingtonians in need can rely on during the crisis:

Food:

On March 20, the City of Seattle will start distributing a series of $20 vouchers to approximately 6,250 families who may be experiencing financial hardship during the coronavirus outbreak. For more information, click here.

Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Spokane, and many other school districts are providing meals for students while their schools are closed. Any person under 18 who shows up will be fed.

Some grocery stores are reserving shopping times for elderly and at-risk shoppers. Safeway and Albertsons have special shopping times at 7-9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Uwajimaya 8-9 a.m. daily. Whole Foods stores will let senior shoppers in the store an hour before their official opening times.

The state government has a page with resources for state and federal food assistance programs.

Child Care:

Boys and Girls Clubs of King County will be extending hours and programs at 12 of its centers as an option to families looking for a place to turn.

The YMCAs of Greater Seattle and Snohomish County offer child care services to parents who must report for work in-person during the coronavirus shutdown. Care is available Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Each YMCA facility has capacity for 400 kids. Lunch and snacks are provided throughout the day.

The YMCA of the Greater Tri-Cities and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties are making plans to provide child care for six weeks.

Child Care Aware can help you search for alternative childcare if your school or childcare has closed due to COVID-19 concerns. Call their Family Center at 1-800-446-1114.

Health Care:

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange is opening enrollment to qualified individuals until April 8. For more information, click here. 

Apple Health enrollment for qualified low-income individuals is open year-round. If you have lost your job, and your income is suddenly below $17,609 for a single adult (more for families), you qualify for Apple Health. For more information, click here. 

Many health plans are waiving co-pays and deductibles for COVID-19 office visits and lab tests. Health plans are also allowing one-time early refills for most prescriptions. For more information, click here.

Washington State is covering costs of testing for uninsured people. For more information, click here.

Money:

Unemployment benefits assist workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own – including closures and slowdowns due to coronavirus. Washington has enacted emergency rules to make UI available to even more workers. For more information, click here

If you have been denied unemployment benefits, contact the Unemployment Law Project for low-cost representation and counsel to people in Washington. For more information, click here

If you are missing work because you are sick or quarantined, Washington workers have access to paid sick leave. If your employer’s business was shut down due to new public-health restrictions, you may still have access to paid sick leave. For more information, click here.

If you can’t work for a long period of time because you are sick or are caring for a family member, you may be able to apply for partial wage replacement through Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program. For more information, click here.

The governor has signed a statewide moratorium on rent-related residential evictions through April 17.

The IRS is delaying is allowing Americans to defer payments and filing for 90 days, to July 15. United Way offers free online tax preparation.

Families in need can apply to the Washington State Labor Council’s Foundation for Working Families. Assistance is not restricted to union members, but they are given priority. For more information, click here.

Small Businesses:

King County 4Culture is offering grants from a Cultural Relief Fund of $1 million for individuals and nonprofits affected by the outbreak, applications open through May 15. For more information, click here. 

Many small business and nonprofits are eligible for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s low-interest loans that are part of a coronavirus relief package. For more information, click here. 

Seattle Office of Economic Development is offering grants to small business owners who make 80 percent or less of the area’s median income, have a physical location and five or fewer employees, and have experienced a loss of income due to COVID-19. For more information, click here. 

The Washington State Department of Revenue is working with affected businesses who need tax filing extensions, and it may also waive late payments in certain situations. For more information, click here.

Main Street Alliance has a page full of resources and FAQs to help small businesses navigate federal programs. here.

Utilities: 

Comcast, CenturyLink, Spectrum Mobile, Verizon and AT&T have suspended disconnections due to lack of payment for 60 days. Comcast and AT&T are providing free access to its public WiFi hot spots. Comcast is offering two months free to new “Internet Essentials” customers in their service areas.

Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light will keep utility services on and provide immediate utility relief for customers, both residential and commercial, financially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. All customers can set up deferred payment plans if their financial stability has been jeopardized. 

The Tacoma City Council ordered Tacoma Public Utilities to postpone shutoffs for non-payment. The Council also approved the creation of a $1 million Emergency Assistance Program to allow more households to qualify for assistance.

Puget Sound Energy is providing no late fees or shut-offs during the coronavirus crisis. The company launched a new energy assistance portal to improve access to funds available to low-income customers. 

Snohomish Public Utilities will not disconnect for late payments during coronavirus outbreak.

Customers in the Thurston County Public Utility District affected by COVID-19 can request a deferred payment plan.

Other Benefits:

See what other benefits you are eligible for through Washington Connection. Run by the state government, the site offers a fast way for families and individuals to apply for a variety of services such as food, cash, child care, long-term care, and Medicare Savings Programs.

The state government also has a consistently updated page with resources. Some of them are the same as on here, but some are different.

 

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