Where to Find Financial Help During the Coronavirus

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| 7 min read Financial Assistance

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 financial help during the coronavirus pandemic.

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10 ways to get coronavirus 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.

  • Food Banks Canada has hundreds of food banks across the country 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 in need 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 in need 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.

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 financial situation. Even if a moratorium doesn’t exist where you live, they might 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 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 within days of getting your first donations.

For those who are financially secure, crowdfunding gives them a seamless way to help those affected 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.

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5. COVID-19 financial assistance with unemployment 

More than one million Canadians lost their jobs in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, the federal government recognized the need for coronavirus relief for unemployed workers and have relaxed the standard rules about securing unemployment benefits. The government has created new guidelines for EI benefits.

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 need help understanding all of your options, you can speak to credit counsellors 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 in need. 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 might 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 assistance you need right away

In these uncertain times, know that you’re not alone in your financial 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.

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Written by pkauffman