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COVID-19 Help: Food, Housing, and Financial Assistance

Food Assistance

What resources are available for individuals and families experiencing food insecurity?

You can also call 311 any time if you’re concerned about food access and they will connect you with local resources. Multilingual assistance is available.

Financial Assistance

Business Assistance

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

  • The City is offering free one-on-one coaching assistance to businesses based in Somerville or owned by Somerville residents that have been affected by COVID-19. Get help with loan applications, financial planning, restaurant operations, and more. To apply for this program, please fill out this application. Coaching is also available in Spanish, Portuguese, and Nepali. You can also contact the Economic Development team at EconomicDevelopment@somervillema.gov
  • 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. 

“Wear a Mask” posters for businesses are available for download here.

 

Employee Assistance

  • File for unemployment: The MA Department of Unemployment Assistance has resources for employees.
    • To file for unemployment benefits, click here. To file for unemployment benefits in Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Chinese, or Vietnamese, click here.
    • For assistance with your Unemployment Insurance (UI) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) application, contact the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA)  by phone at (877) 626-6800 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday, 8 a.m–12 p.m. Saturday. Multilingual call agents are available. 
  • Apply for transitional cash assistance:
    • Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) is a cash assistance program for families with children under 18. Find out if you’re eligible here, and apply online here.
    • Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) is for disabled individuals who are not yet on SSI (supplemental security income). Find out if you’re eligible here, and apply online here. A representative will follow up with a phone call once you complete the online application.
    • You can apply for cash benefits by phone by calling the MA Department of Transitional Assistance Ombudsman Office at 617-348-5354 or the DTA Assistance Line at (877) 382-2363 from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
  • If you need assistance with food, rent or other basic needs, please call 311 (617-666-3311) for assistance in your language.

The Massachusetts COVID-19 Temporary Emergency Paid Sick Leave Program requires employers to make paid leave time available to employees for COVID-related illnesses, quarantine, and vaccinations. Employers may then apply for reimbursement from the state. For questions regarding the COVID-19 Temporary Emergency Paid Sick Leave Program, employers can email CovidSickLeave@mass.gov . For questions on applying for employer reimbursements, employers can email ESL@dor.state.ma.us.

Under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law, most employees in the state have the right to earn and use up to 40 hours of job-protected sick leave per year to take care of themselves and certain family members. Click here for more information about employee rights and employer obligations in Massachusetts during this pandemic.

The Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave program also provides most W-2 and some 1099 workers with paid leave for family or medical reasons. More information about this program, including how to apply and eligibility requirements can be found here. You can also call the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave at (833) 344-7365, Monday-Friday 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

 

Artist Assistance

The Somerville Arts Council announces grant opportunities for local artists on their webpage here.

 

Student Assistance

The Biden Administration extended the pause on federal student loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education until May 1, 2022. The relief includes suspended monthly payments, waived interest, and stopped collections on eligible loans including Direct Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, and Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans held by the federal government.  Learn more on the Federal Student Aid Coronavirus page.

 

Funds for Bereaved Families

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

FEMA is also providing financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020. Applications are accepted by phone only. Please visit the FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance page for details on how to apply.

 

Federal Aid & Stimulus Checks

To date, the federal government has passed three major pieces of legislation to support COVID-19 relief efforts: the CARES Act in March 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2020, and the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021. 

As of January 2022, the federal government has issued three Economic Impact Payments to qualifying individuals. If you were eligible for an stimulus check and did not receive one, please visit this IRS page to learn how to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit. You can check the status of your payment using the Get My Payment tool.

Housing & Utility Assistance

Mortgage & Rental Assistance

If you are experiencing difficulty paying your rent, mortgage, or are facing eviction, contact the Somerville Office of Housing Stability. To make a referral for yourself or on behalf of someone else by completing this form in English or Spanish

Other organizations providing housing assistance in Somerville include: 

Somerville Homelessness Coalition, 617-623-6111. Complete the online referral form in English, Spanish, or Portuguese.

Utility Assistance

There are several circumstances under which your utilities cannot be shut off without permission of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), even if you owe money to your utility company. For example, shutoffs are prohibited without DPU permission between November 15 and March 15, and if the utility service is necessary to heat your home. If you are having trouble paying your utility bills, you may be eligible for fuel assistance. You can also contact your utility company to try and set up a payment plan.

The City of Somerville, Eversource, and National Grid offer several income eligible programs that can help to lower your utility costs and pay off overdue bills.

Winter Heating Fuel Assistance Program

Low-income households may be eligible to receive help with winter heating costs through the Fuel Assistance Program between November 1 and April 30. This program serves residents of Somerville and Cambridge. It is part of the Massachusetts Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). To learn more about the program or apply for assistance, visit the program website, or email dhspfuel@cambridgema.gov  or call 617-349-6252.

Payment Plans and Eversource New Start

If you have overdue portions of your bill, reach out to Eversource and they will work with you to spread out payments. If you meet the income eligibility requirements below, you may also qualify for Eversource’s New Start program. Through this program, Eversource will work with you to set a monthly budget payment based on your average monthly bill. If you make on-time monthly payments, Eversource will forgive a portion of your past due balance. Find out more here or call Eversource at 800-592-2000.

Discounted Electric and Natural Gas Rates

Eversource and National Grid offer discounted electric and natural gas rates to qualifying customers. Residential customers with incomes below the levels listed in the table below and who receive benefits from another program (e.g.,  LIHEAP/fuel assistance, SNAP, SSI, MassHealth, public or subsidized housing, Head Start, WIC) may be eligible. The Eversource discount rate is applied to your electric bill and does not affect your enrollment in the Somerville Community Choice Electricity Program or other competitive electric supply program. If you heat with electricity, let Eversource know because you may be entitled to an even lower rate. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply here. City social workers at the Health and Human Services Department (for residents 18 to 59 years old) and at the Council on Aging (ages 60 and above) can help you enroll.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (which replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit program in December 2021) provides eligible households with a $30/month credit toward their internet bill, and a one-time $100 credit toward the purchase of a new laptop or tablet. Learn more and sign up here.

Both Comcast and RCN are also offering Internet plans to eligible customers for as low as $9.95 per month. 

If you’re unable to pay your full internet bill, contact your service provider to discuss your options. They may be able to work with you to defer payments, waive late feeds, or set up payment plans. 

Immigrant Resources

If you need assistance accessing help in your language, please call 311 (617-666-3311). You may also contact the Somerville Office of Immigrant Affairs

Are you a service provider or advocate? Stay informed of information impacting immigrant communities by signing up for hte Immigrant Services Newsletter. To sign up, please email ISUNewsUpdates@somervillema.gov.

Programs & Initiatives

MWRA and the Cities of Cambridge and Somerville have implemented a system for rapid reporting of CSO discharges to the Alewife Brook.
Get your flu shot and updated COVID-19 booster at a City of Somerville clinic this fall. Both are strongly recommended to protect yourself and others from serious illness.

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