Help, Resources, and Ways to Contribute During the COVID-19 Crisis

Have a Suggestion for COVID-19 Assistance or Ways to Help?

We're gathering a list of community resources in the sections below. If you have an idea for ways people can get assistance or help out, please share it via this form.

  • Food Access

  • Business, Employee, & Artist Assistance

  • Housing & Utility Assistance

  • Student & Family Assistance

  • Help & Donate to Others

  • About the CARES Act Federal Aid

  • Mental Health & Wellbeing

Food Access

  • The City of Somerville/Food for Free Supplemental food pantry has been established for the COVID-19 crisis. Fill out this form to sign up for the week and receive a bag of non-perishable items, plus fresh fruit and vegetables. Please note: If you anticipate needing a weekly bag, you will need to sign up again as needed. 
  • The Somerville Food Security Coalition is maintaining an updated list of food resources during COVID-19. Call an organization before visiting in person, as they may have new procedures to follow.
  • Project Bread offers a FoodSource Hotline at (800) 645-8333 (TTY line: 1-800-377-1292) to help callers find food resources.
  • You can also call 311 any time if you’re concerned about food access and they will connect you with local resources.

Yes. Starting Monday, March 16, any SPS students and families in need can pick up take-home breakfasts and lunches daily at one of the following district locations: East Somerville Community School, Winter Hill Community Innovation School, West Somerville Neighborhood School, and the Healey School (starts March 23). Adjustments may be made in future weeks as needed. Learn more here.

Several grocery stores in the area are offering dedicated hours for seniors. However, it is recommended to call before heading out to shop, as policies may vary by location.

  • Market Basket
    • New Hours: 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. every day
    • Senior-Only Shopping: 6 a.m. - 7 a.m. 
  • Star Market 
    • New Hours: 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. every day 
    • Senior-Only Shopping: 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays 
  • Stop and Shop
    • Senior-Only (60+) Shopping: 6 a.m. - 7:30 a.m. every day 
  • Trader Joe’s
    • New Hours: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. every day
    • Seniors: Every day between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., a separate line will be maintained outside the front door for senior customers to have expedited entry
See the Help & Donate to Others tab on this page for information on how to get involved with food-assistance efforts.

Business Assistance

Novel Coronavirus Resources for Businesses: somervillema.gov/COVIDBizHelp

The coronavirus outbreak and the social distancing precautions it necessitates are having a big impact on Somerville businesses. We understand the stress that our entrepreneurs, workers, and freelancers are under given the uncertainty of the situation and the level of disruption to daily life.

  • The City has set up a separate website dedicated to local business needs during this health crisis. Please bookmark www.somervillema.gov/COVIDBizHelp and visit for regular updates, event announcements, and support during this difficult time.
  • The City’s Economic Development team offers an e-newsletter for businesses. It’s sent frequently and includes the latest information, resources, and initiatives for our local business community. 
  • The Economic Development team is also hosting virtual town halls for business owners every Thursday at 3 p.m. These are an opportunity for business owners to ask City staff questions and share concerns about the public health and economic emergencies our community is facing.
  • The State also offers guidance and directives for businesses and employers during this pandemic.

 

Employee Assistance

  • File for unemployment: The MA Department of Unemployment Assistance has resources for employees.
    • To file for unemployment benefits, click here
    • Complete this online Contact Request Form to speak with a Department of Unemployment Assistance representative on the phone. Due to high call volume, DUA is not accepting incoming phone calls to their main line at this time. The contact request form is available in other languages here.
    • The Boston Globe published this helpful article on applying for unemployment due to the health crisis. 
    • Starting March 24, the MA Department of Unemployment Assistance will also offer daily presentations online and by phone to go through the process of filing for unemployment step by step.
    • To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must have a valid social security number and employment authorization. Unemployment benefits do not count as a negative factor under the Public Charge rule. The following resource is available to people who do not have employment authorization: https://www.massundocufund.org 
  • Apply for transitional cash assistance:
    • The MA Department of Transitional Assistance is now allowing phone applications for cash benefits. 
    • The TAFDC program is for families with minor children, and the EAEDC program is for disabled individuals who are not yet on SSI (supplemental security income).
    • Applicants should call 617-348-5354 to apply by phone.
    • If you are an immigrant, you may be able to receive cash assistance, but it may affect any future applications for permanent residency (green card). You should speak with your immigration attorney before applying. If you do not have an immigration attorney, you can contact any of the following organizations to help: https://www.masslegalservices.org/system/files/library/Statewide%20Refer...
  • Información de desempleo de Massachusetts sobre el virus COVID-19 en Español esta aqui.

A range of independent funds and organizations are also mobilizing to support those in specific fields:

We are awaiting details of the federal COVID-19 aid package and will share them here. If you know of other helpful financial resources not listed here, please email [email protected]

 

Artist Assistance

  • The Somerville Arts Council has gathered information on funding and grants for artists impacted by COVID-19
  • They’re also sharing new information regularly on their Facebook page
  • The Arts Council has launched the “Home Alone Art Series” (HAAS) to hire and pay Somerville artists (both residents and those who have a studio in Somerville) who are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19. HAAS is a series of art-related performances that will be live-streamed by you on Facebook. Selected artists will receive a $300 stipend. Learn more here
  • The Mass Cultural Council is working to establish a COVID-19 Relief Fund to support individuals whose creative practices and incomes are adversely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Grants of $1,000 will be available to Massachusetts individual artists and independent teaching artists/humanists/scientists who have lost income derived from their work as a direct result of coronavirus-related cancellations and closures. Pending Council approval, expected April 7, the program guidelines and online application will be available April 8 at 10 a.m., with an April 22 deadline.
  • You’ll also find an extensive list of resources for freelance artists here.

Renters and Homeowners

In response to the COVID-19 State of Emergency in Massachusetts, additional funding is now available through the State’s Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program. The new funding of $5 million will be allocated to households (individuals and families) facing instability as a result of a COVID-19 related housing crisis due to a loss of wages or increase in expenses (e.g., medical expenses). RAFT assists households of all sizes and configurations with financial assistance up to $4,000 per household to help preserve current housing or move to new housing.

To apply for RAFT funds, eligible Somerville residents need to submit a pre-application through Metro Housing Boston, which is the regional agency covering our area for RAFT. Click here to submit a pre-application. This will be the fastest and easiest way to apply for funds. Phone and email inquiries will not be accepted. Completion of this online process does not guarantee eligibility, approval, or payment. A valid social security number is required.

RAFT Steps

  1. Submit pre-application online.
  2. Wait for email from representative at Metro Housing|Boston.
  3. Answer eligibility questions via email (this will be emailed to you).
  4. If found pre-eligible, you will be given the full application to complete by email and send back to Metro.
  5. You must provide all required documents (a list will be attached at the time eligibility is determined).
  6. If payments are being made to landlord, you will be provided a property owner packet for them to complete and submit to [email protected].
  7. Once application and all required documents have been collected, Metro Housing will review.
  8. If approved, you will be informed and payments will be made directly to property owner and/or vendors.
  9. If you are seeking assistance with a security deposit or first month rent, you must first locate the apartment. You cannot move into the apartment prior to final approval from the RAFT program. If you move in, you will not be eligible for the program.

First, contact your landlord or lender to talk through delayed or partial payment options.

Remember that owners and management companies are aware of the crisis and may be willing to negotiate with you around payment plans or giving you sufficient time to see what funds you are eligible for. Reach out to them and stay in communication. 

  • Renters: Contact your landlord or management company as soon as you can. See if you can set up a payment plan with them with repayment dates, and get everything in writing. 
  • Owners: If you are concerned about making upcoming mortgage payments, contact your mortgage servicer (the company where you send your monthly payments) as soon as possible to let them know about your current circumstances. The telephone number and mailing address of your mortgage servicer should be listed on your monthly mortgage statement. It is important to contact lenders to discuss your situation, as missed payments can cause late and other collection fees to accrue.

These resources are available to help with rent and mortgage payments:

Some emergency rental assistance funds are available through the City of Somerville and Somerville nonprofit agencies. Note that all offices are being staffed remotely, but they will be checking phone lines and will reach out to callers.

In response to the COVID-19 State of Emergency in Massachusetts, additional funding is now available through the State’s Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program. The new funding of $5 million will be allocated to households (individuals and families) facing instability as a result of a COVID-19 related housing crisis due to a loss of wages or increase in expenses (e.g., medical expenses). RAFT assists households of all sizes and configurations with financial assistance up to $4,000 per household to help preserve current housing or move to new housing.

To apply for RAFT funds, eligible Somerville residents need to submit a pre-application through Metro Housing Boston, which is the regional agency covering our area for RAFT. Click here to submit a pre-application. This will be the fastest and easiest way to apply for funds. Phone and email inquiries will not be accepted. Completion of this online process does not guarantee eligibility, approval, or payment. A valid social security number is required.

RAFT Steps

  1. Submit pre-application online.
  2. Wait for email from representative at Metro Housing|Boston.
  3. Answer eligibility questions via email (this will be emailed to you).
  4. If found pre-eligible, you will be given the full application to complete by email and send back to Metro.
  5. You must provide all required documents (a list will be attached at the time eligibility is determined).
  6. If payments are being made to landlord, you will be provided a property owner packet for them to complete and submit to [email protected].
  7. Once application and all required documents have been collected, Metro Housing will review.
  8. If approved, you will be informed and payments will be made directly to property owner and/or vendors.
  9. If you are seeking assistance with a security deposit or first month rent, you must first locate the apartment. You cannot move into the apartment prior to final approval from the RAFT program. If you move in, you will not be eligible for the program.

In addition to programs that specifically assist with rent and mortgage payments, there are some that can help with your finances after a job loss.

  • Rules for applying for and collecting unemployment have been significantly relaxed. Applications for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits from the Division of Unemployment Assistance can be made here. The online system is available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is the fastest way to get benefits. The system only has English language prompts. If you would like to speak to someone on the phone, you must complete this online contact request form. The form is available in other languages here. You can also call 311 for assistance (617-666-3311). No incoming calls to the Division of Unemployment Assistance will be answered due to high call volume. 
    • To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must have a valid social security number and employment authorization. Unemployment benefits do not count as a negative factor under the Public Charge rule. The following resource is available to people who do not have employment authorization: https://www.massundocufund.org
  • Applications for SNAP/Food Stamp benefits can be made here or by calling the Department of Transitional Assistance line at 877-382-2363.
  • We are awaiting details of additional aid from the state and federal governments.

There are many steps required before a tenant can be evicted for non-payment of rent. These include service of a 14- or 30-day notice to quit after nonpayment and service and filing of a summary process complaint. The process of eviction can be long and often includes mediation, negotiation, and appeals. Ultimately, only a judge can evict you.

Remember that owners and management companies are aware of the crisis and may be willing to negotiate with you around payment plans or giving you sufficient time to see what funds you’re eligible for. Reach out to them and stay in communication. 

More important information about the status of evictions in Somerville during this public health emergency:

On Saturday, March 28, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the Somerville Board of Health announced an Emergency Order Establishing a Moratorium on Eviction Enforcement in the City of Somerville for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. The order, which applies to both residential and commercial evictions and goes into effect immediately, prohibits the physical act of eviction within the city limits so as to provide for the health, safety, and stability of those who live in and serve our community. 

The Somerville Eviction Moratorium does not prevent owners from filing eviction cases or getting what is known as “executions for possession” from the courts. It prohibits "levying," which is the physical removal of persons and belongings. This is the one area of the process where municipalities have an opportunity to intervene in order to protect the health and safety of the tenants as well as the community overall. 

Somerville residents who receive a “notice of levy” eviction order or who are experiencing a physical eviction should immediately contact 311 (617-666-3311) to be connected to Office of Housing Stability staff (for residential tenants or homeowners) or Economic Development Division staff (for commercial tenants), who will work with landlords, and the Somerville Police Department as necessary, to intervene.

The order does not protect tenants from eviction once the Board of Health determines that the public health emergency no longer exists. It is thus very important that, to the extent possible, that tenants and homeowners continue to make payments or work out payment plans with their landlords or lenders. The order does not clear any tenant or homeowner of owed rent or mortgage debt. As discussed above, there may be some rental and mortgage assistance available. Somerville residents should contact the Office of Housing Stability at 617-625-66000 x2581 for assistance. 

Any sort of rent freeze or rent waiver must come at the direction of the State. The City doesn’t have the legal authority to implement one on its own. Our role at the local level is to press for those measures to be taken. In the meantime, if you’re a Somerville tenant in need, please call the City’s Office of Housing Stability at 617-625-6600 ext. 2581.

On Saturday, March 28, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the Somerville Board of Health announced an Emergency Order Establishing a Moratorium on Eviction Enforcement in the City of Somerville for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. The order, which applies to both residential and commercial evictions and goes into effect immediately, prohibits the physical act of eviction within the city limits so as to provide for the health, safety, and stability of those who live in and serve our community. 

The Somerville Eviction Moratorium does not prevent owners from filing eviction cases or getting what is known as “executions for possession” from the courts. It prohibits "levying," which is the physical removal of persons and belongings. This is the one area of the process where municipalities have an opportunity to intervene in order to protect the health and safety of the tenants as well as the community overall. 

Somerville residents who receive a “notice of levy” eviction order or who are experiencing a physical eviction should immediately contact 311 (617-666-3311) to be connected to Office of Housing Stability staff (for residential tenants or homeowners) or Economic Development Division staff (for commercial tenants), who will work with landlords, and the Somerville Police Department as necessary, to intervene.

The order does not protect tenants from eviction once the Board of Health determines that the public health emergency no longer exists. It is thus very important that, to the extent possible, that tenants and homeowners continue to make payments or work out payment plans with their landlords or lenders. The order does not clear any tenant or homeowner of owed rent or mortgage debt. There may be some rental and mortgage assistance available. Somerville residents should contact the Office of Housing Stability at 617-625-66000 x2581 for assistance. 

You can go to the Office of Housing Stability’s website or call the intake line at 617-625-6600 ext. 2581. Please be patient. We are trying to get back to everyone promptly but are short-staffed and trying our best to work remotely!

On Saturday, March 28, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the Somerville Board of Health announced an Emergency Order Establishing a Moratorium on Eviction Enforcement in the City of Somerville for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. As part of this order, all in-person showings of rental units and any non-emergency work in units are required to cease during the emergency. Property owners showing units being willingly vacated are advised to request images and videos from the occupants in order to show units virtually or to show similar vacant units instead if available. In-person showings of units that have already been vacated is permissible.

Yes. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, both state and federal tax returns are due on July 15, 2020. However, the IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. If you need to file an extension, you have until April 15 to request to push your due date to October 15, but any unpaid balance will still be due in July.

 

Utility Assistance

The MA Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has suspended the disconnection of utility services for nonpayment during this state of emergency.

Eversource is also eliminating late-payment charges and offering flexible payment plans. To learn more about financial assistance available, visit their website or call to speak with a customer service representative: 800-592-2000.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Comcast is offering 60 days of free Internet access to low-income subscribers via their Internet Essentials program, which normally is available to low-income families for $9.95 per month. They have also increased Internet speeds for all existing and new subscribers to the program to 25/3 Mbps. New customers receive a free self-install kit that includes a cable modem with a Wi-Fi router. There will be no term contract or credit check and no shipping fee.

To apply to sign up: 

Información en Español esta aqui.

Parents and Caregivers

Click here for the latest updates from the Somerville Public Schools. They’ve also compiled a list of free home-learning resources that have been vetted and recommended by the Somerville curriculum team. 

Distribution of free diapers to families with babies or young children will be every Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. at the four school food distribution sites. 

 

Student Assistance

Updates on Federal Student Loan relief are available on the Federal Student Aid Coronavirus page. As a result of the CARES Act that was made into law on Friday, March 27, federally held student loan payments are suspended until September 30, 2020. During this time, all interest will be waived. Non-payment will not negatively impact your credit score. Eligible loans include Direct Loans, as well as Federal Perkins Loans and Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans held by the federal government.

Please note that some FFEL Program loans are owned by commercial lenders, and some Perkins Loans are held by the institution you attended. These loans are not eligible for this benefit at this time.

Contact your loan servicer online or by phone to determine if your loans are eligible. Your servicer is the entity to which you make your monthly payment. If you do not know who your servicer is or how to contact them, visit StudentAid.gov/login or call 1-800-433-3243 (TTY 1-800-730-8913) for assistance.

The nonprofit Community Service Society has helpful guidance on their website for managing student loans during COVID-19 impacts.

 

Grief and Loss

At a time of loss, it is natural to want to come together with loved ones. Social distancing orders and travel restrictions can make honoring a loved one more difficult, but you do not need to navigate this situation alone.

If your loved one is hospitalized, the hospital's Social Services department will be able to advise on how to make the proper arrangements for anything you may need moving forward. It is also important to contact a Funeral Director, as funeral homes have been receiving specific guidance and they’ll have the expertise to help you. 

Both of these resources can provide you with crucial information on how to navigate any end-of-life decision-making process and what kind of financial assistance your family may be eligible for to help cover the costs.

Considerations for Ceremonies 

The current COVID-19 pandemic may present some significant challenges to holding funeral ceremonies we’re accustomed to. Bereaved families can work with their funeral director to create meaningful services that adhere to current social distancing guidelines. The Center for Loss & Life Transition also offers some suggestions to help make the process less overwhelming during this unprecedented time: 

  • If possible, try to have a small ceremony wherever you are. Gather the family members who are part of your household, display photos of the person who died, light a candle, say a prayer or read a text aloud that is meaningful to you, play music if you’d like, and share thoughts and memories. This informal “funeral” may help you mark the occasion of the death, pay tribute to the person who died, and feel that sense of acknowledgment, remembrance, and support.
  • At a time of great loss, we want our loved ones close. If the pandemic is making this impossible, consider using technology to reach out to the people you care about to share news of the death, support one another, and discuss funeral planning. The goal is to stay connected as much as possible AND to be open and honest in those communications about whatever it is you are feeling or struggling with at the moment. Your candor will encourage others to be honest as well, creating the opportunity for mutual support and kindness.
  • Technology can also be used to help overcome any limitations of the funeral service itself. Services can be webcast or recorded and made available online later. Obituaries, guest books, and video tributes can be (and often are) shared online. And turning to technology is also a good way to involve others in the funeral-planning process. People want to help—and that is especially true right now. Tech-savvy friends and family members can all pitch in to help create videos, edit and upload photos, write social media posts, etc. The more people who participate, the better.
  • Plan a larger service and/or reception when social distancing restrictions have lifted. The social distancing restrictions have made us all more aware of our human need to be with and touch the people we care about. When death affects our social circle, we naturally feel the need to congregate and support one another in person. Even if you must delay a larger public gathering, those who want to support you will still be happy to attend when it is safe to do so. 

Funding & Assistance

Some funding may be available through the MA Department of Transitional Assistance to help pay for a funeral and burial. More information about eligibility can be found here

The City of Somerville’s Social Worker and Family Services Manager, Luciana Quintanilha, is available to provide guidance on this difficult topic. She can be reached at 857-270-4010 or via email at [email protected].

Given the uncertainty we are dealing with because of the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to start having conversations about end-of-life preparations with our loved ones, as difficult as they may be. With day-to-day life feeling particularly uncertain right now, having these difficult but important conversations will provide us with a sense of control, which can help make us feel less overwhelmed. Now is a good time to consider the following:

  • Advance directives for yourself: Do you have a health proxy? What are your wishes in case you find yourself in a situation when extreme measures (such as life support) are needed? Having clear advance directives and discussions about life support is especially critical at this moment. Your medical providers or a social worker would be the best people to guide you through this process.
  • Advance directives for loved ones: Do you have any loved ones living at assisted-living facilities or nursing homes? It is crucial to discuss advance directives with them as soon as possible, then help communicate their wishes to the appropriate staff.
  • Prepare an end-of-life plan: Get organized when it comes to your own affairs. Start drafting an end-of-life plan (writing a will, getting a power-of-attorney in place, and other information you find important for your loved ones to know), including medical instructions, guardianship designations, and other legal contingency plans, beneficiary designations, life insurance policies, a list of passwords, key contacts, medical professionals and financial advisers. Try to gather all this information in one place so someone who needs access to that information can find it easily. There are many resources available online that could be helpful at this time. 
  • Don't neglect your feelings. Recognize the world as we knew it has changed, and it is ok to feel overwhelmed. Breathe. Let go of what you can't control, and find some peace in what you can. Here is a useful resource about managing grief during this difficult time. 

The City of Somerville’s Social Worker and Family Services Manager, Luciana Quintanilha, is available to provide guidance on this difficult topic. She can be reached at 857-270-4010 or via email at [email protected].

Volunteer with State and Regional Response 

The Metro East Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and the MA Responds COVID-19 Response Team are seeking volunteers of all skill levels with medical and non-medical experience. The Metro East MRC is a local initiative, while the COVID-19 response team is statewide. You can sign up for both at the same time by creating a MA Responds profile. 

To sign up, select COVID-19 Response Team and/or Metro East MRC by clicking the orange plus sign under “Add Organizations” in the application and select the teams you would like to volunteer for. Please note that Metro East MRC is part of Region 4B - Greater Boston. Questions about the Metro East MRC can be directed to Mia Nardini at [email protected]

Volunteer with City of Somerville Efforts 

Currently, the City of Somerville has limited opportunities for volunteers but is building a reserve of volunteers to draw upon should they be needed. If you are interested in volunteering for City or School initiatives, please note that in most instances you will need an approved CORI (required background check) with either the City of Somerville or Somerville Public Schools. Please see the below contacts for volunteering:

  • If you’re interested in supporting the City of Somerville’s Grocery Delivery Program or would like to be notified of other City of Somerville volunteer opportunities, please contact Jennifer Mancia, City of Somerville's Community Service Manager, at [email protected].
  • Community-based organizations with volunteer inquiries and needs may reach out to Jennifer Mancia at [email protected].
  • If you are interested in supporting the Council on Aging, please contact Natasha Naim, LCSW, at [email protected].

Once you have made contact with one of the above staff members and provided all the necessary information, you will be placed on a list and notified of opportunities as they arise. Please do not expect an immediate response as the current focus is on running necessary services utilizing a limited number of staff and volunteers whenever possible for the safety of the community. 

Check In on Elderly Residents 

Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services is looking for volunteers to help with making check-in phone calls to elder residents regarding COVID-19. There is a particular need for volunteers who speak Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, or Haitian. A CORI/background is required.

Volunteer to Help a Neighbor through a Mutual Aid Network

See if there is a need you can fill for a neighbor through a mutual aid network. Mutual aid networks, like Medford and Somerville Mutual Aid (MAMAs), are grassroots efforts to connect those with needs to those who might be able to provide help. Read more about how mutual aid organizations operate in this New York Times article, which highlights the efforts of MAMAs. 

These links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by the City of Somerville of the linked websites, or the information, products, or services contained therein. The City of Somerville does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. The City of Somerville bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external site or that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

There is a severe blood shortage due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Red Cross is coordinating blood drives in the area and has a list of upcoming local drives. Appointments are required. Schedule online or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

The Red Cross urges eligible and healthy donors to make an appointment to give soon, but asks that anyone who has traveled to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea to postpone their donation for 28 days. If you have been diagnosed with or have had contact with anyone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, please postpone your donation. Other eligibility requirements can be found here

Donate Masks and Other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Somerville Hospital

CHA is asking for donations of new and unused:

  • N95 Masks (usually made by 3M or KC Duckbill but any brand will be accepted)
  • Paper masks (with ties or elastic)
  • Paper protective gowns
  • Protective glasses/goggles (can be previously used)
  • Touchless digital thermometers

Items can be dropped off with the public safety officers at the entrance of Somerville Hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Items can also be shipped to CHA Somerville, 33 Tower Street, Somerville, MA 02143 Attn: Receiving Donations. Requests and inquiries can be sent to [email protected].

Sew Personal Protective Equipment for CHA Staff and Providers 

Somerville Hospital is requesting donations of homemade personal protective equipment (PPE). Here’s how you can sew masks to help CHA providers:

  • Use cotton, such as cotton sheets.
  • Create the mask using two layers of material and include a "pocket" on the inside where the mask touches the face so that a filter can be inserted.
  • CHA recommends using this pattern from Gather Here in Cambridge. Here is a video tutorial with additional guidance. 
  • For more info on dimensions of cotton and alternatives to elastic ties, click here.
  • When complete, bring the masks to Somerville Hospital (or Cambridge or Everett Hospital) and drop them off at the main entrance with Public Safety. Please provide your name and email address so CHA can say thank you.

If you are unable to leave your home to deliver the items, please contact the CHA Foundation to request a pickup. Questions about homemade donations should be directed to [email protected].

Continue to support Somerville restaurants by ordering takeout or delivery. Visit somervilledelivers.com for a full list of restaurants open for delivery or takeout. Don’t forget to tip generously.

  • Buy a gift card to a business you frequent often or shop online if available. 
  • If you can, keep paying for services, like haircuts, gym classes, music lessons, cleaning services, etc., that you would otherwise be using.
  • Leave a positive comment or review on a favorite local business’s social media accounts. A little positive support can go a long way. 

 

During this time when we are social distancing, it is still important to build community and connect with one another. Consider ways you can safely connect with your neighbors. Here are a few ideas: 

  • Put a friendly sign in your window or start something like the rainbow hunt that neighbors started around Prospect Hill. Positive messages feel good to share and it can be a fun activity to try to find them when walking around. 
  • Check in on a neighbor (staying at least 6 feet away) and offer assistance. 
  • Leave a sidewalk note with chalk to a neighbor or friend that you miss visiting. 
  • Are you musically inclined? Share a song from your porch with your neighbors or host a distant sing-a-long from your own porches or windows.

Essential workers like grocers, pharmacists, medical professionals, trash and recycling haulers, delivery drivers, and others are all doing incredible work helping our community during this pandemic. Show them some extra kindness during this stressful time by saying thank you and, if appropriate, tipping extra.

The CARES Act is a federal law that directs $2 trillion in federal funding to coronavirus relief efforts.


  • Direct cash payments
    • Individuals earning less than $75,000 will receive $1,200. Married couples earning less than $150,000 will each receive a check.
    • Direct cash payments will arrive within approximately three weeks via direct deposit if you have set up a direct deposit account with the IRS. The IRS will be communicating about payments via mail, so keep an eye on your mailbox.
    • Individuals whose previous income makes them ineligible but who have recently lost their job are not currently eligible to receive the payment. These individuals should be eligible for the expanded unemployment benefits. 
    • Any adult who is claimed as a dependent is ineligible to receive a payment. This is often the case for college students.
    • A valid Social Security number (SSN) is required to be eligible. If a spouse or a child uses an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) instead of a SSN, the entire family is ineligible for the payment. There is an exception for members of the military. 
    • Payments are based on either your 2018 or 2019 tax filings. People who receive Social Security benefits but don’t file a tax return are still eligible. 
    • Payments will decrease for those earning more than $75,000 and will phase out completely for individuals making more than $99,000 and for married couples making more than $198,000. 
    • An additional $500 will be given for each child.
       
  • Expansion of unemployment benefits
    • $260 billion is directed to expand unemployment insurance programs. 
    • New job seekers and workers who are able to continue working from home are not covered. 
    • It also expands unemployment insurance to cover those who are self-employed, freelancers, and “gig economy” workers. 
    • The CARES Act extends unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks, allowing individuals to receive benefits for up to 39 weeks in Massachusetts. 
    • Federal benefits will increase $600 per week through July 2020. This is in addition to the Massachusetts weekly benefit maximum of $823. 
  • Health Coverage
    • Private insurance plans are required to cover COVID-19 treatments and vaccine when they become available.
    • All COVID-19 tests are free.
  • Student Loan Relief & Work Study Expansion
    • All federal loan and interest payments are deferred through September 30, 2020, without penalty.
    • The package allows schools to convert work-study funds to grants and to continue to pay work-study wages while school is suspended. Check with your school to see if you are still eligible for work-study. 
       

Yes, the CARES Act will increase funding for critical food programs, including $8.8 billion for school meal programs for students, $15.5 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and $450 million to food banks and community food distribution programs.

There are a few ways you can receive additional financial benefit as a result of the CARES Act: 

  • Stimulus Check. All individuals earning less than $75,000 will receive a $1,200 stimulus check. Married couples earning less than $150,000 will each receive a check. An additional $500 will be given for each child. 

    You do not need to sign up for this stimulus money. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will automatically direct deposit the money into the bank account on file with the IRS. If you did not share a direct deposit bank account number with the IRS, they will mail the check to the address on the most recent tax filing. 

    Note that stimulus checks will only be distributed to individuals or families that used Social Security Numbers for all members on the tax filing. Tax filings containing Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN), even if other family members have SSNs, will not receive a stimulus check. There are exceptions for military families. 
     

  • Unemployment Supplement. If you are currently receiving unemployment, the CARES Act will provide $600 per week in addition to your regular unemployment compensation through July 2020. The specifics of how an individual can apply for this additional unemployment benefit are still being worked out by the State of Massachusetts. Once information is available it will be posted here.
     
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. This program is an unemployment program that extends unemployment eligibility to self-employed individuals including gig workers, independent contractors, consultants, freelancers, and others who are paid through 1099. The benefit will provide no less than $600 per week. The State of Massachusetts is awaiting more federal guidelines on details like eligibility and payment amounts. Once information is available it will be posted here.
     
  • The CARES Act has also suspended federal student loan payments until September 2020,and allows schools to convert work study funds into grants so that students awarded work study can receive that money.
     

If you have a Social Security Number and Work Authorization, yes, you can benefit from both the unemployment supplement and the stimulus check. This includes DACA recipients and TPS holders. Unemployment benefits and the stimulus check will not be counted as negative factor under the Public Charge rule.

Note that in order to receive the stimulus check, you need to have filed taxes for 2018 or 2019 using your Social Security Number - not your ITIN - and the SSNs for other all individuals listed on the tax filing. Tax filings containing Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN), even if other family members have SSNs, will not receive a stimulus check. There are exceptions for military families. More details are available in this National Immigration Law Center analysis.

If you do not have an SSN or Work Authorization, you are not eligible for the unemployment benefit or the stimulus check, even if you file taxes. The following resource is available to people who do not have employment authorization: https://www.massundocufund.org

The CARES Act provides The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship has prepared a guide to help small business owners navigate their options. There are some options that can help small businesses:

  •  Paycheck Protection Program Loan
    This loan helps businesses maintain cash-flow and keep workers on payroll. If payroll is maintained, loans can be forgiven. This program offers up to eight weeks of payroll forgiveness, no SBA fees, and least six months of deferral with maximum deferrals of up to a year. Businesses impacted by COVID-19 can apply for loans through June 30, 2020, and is retroactive to February 15, 2020, in order to help bring back workers that may have already been laid off. Eligible businesses include for-profit businesses and 501(c)(3) organizations with 500 or fewer employees, as well as sole proprietorships. 
     
  • Small Business Debt Relief Program
    This program will provide immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans. Under it, SBA will cover all loan payments on these SBA loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months. This relief will also be available to new borrowers who take out loans within six months of the President signing the bill into law.
     
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans & Emergency Economic Injury Grants
    These grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits harmed by COVID-19 within three days of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). To access the advance, you first apply for an EIDL and then request the advance. The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstance and may be used to keep employees on payroll, to pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments. 
     
  • Small Business Tax Provisions
    • Employee Retention Credit for Employers Subject to Closure or Experiencing Economic Hardship

This provision would provide a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit is available to employers, including non-profits, whose operations have been fully or partially suspended as a result of a government order limiting commerce, travel or group meetings. The credit is also provided to employers who have experienced a greater than 50 percent reduction in quarterly receipts, measured on a year-over-year basis. 

The credit is not available to employers receiving assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program. The credit is provided through December 31, 2020.

  • Delay of Payment of Employer Payroll Taxes

This provision would allow taxpayers to defer paying the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through the end of 2020, with all 2020 deferred amounts due in two equal installments, one at the end of 2021, the other at the end of 2022. Payroll taxes that can be deferred include the employer portion of FICA taxes, the employer and employee representative portion of Railroad Retirement taxes (that are attributable to the employer FICA rate), and half of SECA tax liability.

Deferral is not provided to employers receiving assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program.

  • Counseling & Training
    Resource partners including Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), Women’s Business Centers (WBC), or SCORE mentorship chapters will receive additional funds to expand their reach and better support small business owners with counseling and up-to-date information regarding COVID-19. There will soon be a joint platform that consolidates information and resources related to COVID-19 in order to provide consistent, timely information to small businesses. 

Yes. Private non-profits are eligible to apply for and receive many of the same supports available to small businesses, including the:

  • Paycheck Protection Program Loan
  • Small Business Debt Relief Program
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans & Emergency Economic Injury Grants
  • Small Business Tax Provisions

This CARES Act guide provided by the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship has more details on the different programs and eligibility requirements for non-profit organizations. The National Council of Nonprofits CARES Act guide is another helpful resource.

The law directs $100 billion to hospitals responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and an additional $1.32 billion to community health centers. It also directs $16 billion to the Strategic National Stockpile to increase the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare providers and other necessary medical equipment.

There is a lot covered in this law. Some other major pieces of the law include $500 billion in loans for major industries, like the airline industry, $339.8 billion for programs that will go to state and local governments, $13 billion for K-12 schools, and $14 billion for higher education. NPR has put together a great summary and the New York Times has put together FAQs if you’re looking for more information.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis and are contemplating suicide or harming others, call 911 immediately.

If you have a mental health provider, check with them to see if they are offering online or phone appointments. There are a number of online-based counseling services and some insurance plans cover these services. Check with your insurance provider to find out what your benefits cover. Some employers offer an employee assistance program that provides counseling services and/or referrals. Check with your employer to find out if one is offered at your workplace.

There are also mental health hotlines, some of which provide text and chat support as well as phone. They include:

  • Samaritans is continuing operations 24/7, as always. During this unprecedented time, it can feel overwhelming to receive constant messages about COVID-19. Call or text their 24/7 helpline any time at 877-870-4673.
  • The Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746. This is a 24/7, national hotline that offers crisis counseling for emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster, including disease outbreaks like COVID-19. It is toll-free, multilingual, and confidential.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8225), live online chat at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat, En Español at 1-888-628-9454, and for people who are deaf or hard of hearing at 1-800-799-4889. Trained crisis workers are available 24 hours a day to provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.
  • The Crisis Text Line, which you can reach by texting 741741. The Crisis Text Line is also available by Facebook Messenger by clicking the “send message” button at www.facebook.com/crisistextline. This 24 hour a day line is staffed by trained crisis counselors.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889. This 24-hour helpline provides referrals to local treatment options, support groups, community-based organizations, and callers can request publications and information. Help is also available in Spanish.

The CDC offers good guidance for individuals and parents on how to cope and help their children cope with the stress that can develop in response to news and events related to COVID-19. They also note that those most at risk of emotional distress for this include:

  • Persons with existing mental health conditions,
  • Persons suffering from substance abuse,
  • Children,
  • and medical providers, first responders, and others working to respond to COVID-19.

Things you can do to support yourself or can encourage others to do:

  • Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
  • Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships.
  • Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.
  • Most importantly: don't neglect your feelings. Recognize the world as we knew it has changed, and it is ok to feel overwhelmed. Breathe. Let go of what you can't control, and find some peace in what you can. Here is a useful resource about managing grief during this difficult time.

Take care of your body. Virtually connect with others. Take breaks from the news. Make time for fun activities.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

There are many places you can get help if you’re experiencing physical, emotional, sexual, or other types of abuse. Resources include:

 The Boston Rape Crisis Center operates a 24-hour hotline at 1-800-841-8371 and live chat support from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

If you are currently seeing a healthcare provider or are part of a program, check with them to see if there will be any modifications to how you access services during the COVID-19 emergency.

If a recovery meeting you normally attend has been canceled and/or you would prefer not to meet in person to maintain socially distancing, there are a number of options available for phone and online meetings. Including: