COVID-19 Help: Food, Housing, and Financial Assistance
Housing & Utility Assistance
What resources are available for individuals and families experiencing food insecurity?
- The Somerville Office of Food Access and Healthy Communities can help connect you to food resources in Somerville. Complete this form to request assistance or refer someone else for assistance, or call 617-776-7687.
- See a comprehensive list of food pantries, locations, contacts, and other nutrition assistance during COVID-19 on the Somerville Food Security Coalition website. Call an organization before visiting in person, as they may have new procedures to follow.
- Somerville Public School students and families can also contact the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative school and community liaisons team, or learn about free and reduced meal programs through the Somerville Public Schools.
- Project Bread offers a FoodSource Hotline at (800) 645-8333 (TTY line: 1-800-377-1292) to help callers find food resources. The hotline is available in 160 languages.
- WIC is a supplemental nutritional program for children under 5 years old. Check your eligibility for this program here. To apply for WIC, complete an application online or contact the local Somerville WIC office at the Cambridge Health Alliance here or at (617) 575-5330. A WIC staff member will call you back. Massachusetts WIC is also available at (800)-942-1007 or (617)-721-6601 weekdays Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you hear a recording, please leave a message with your name and telephone number.
- SNAP is a federal nutrition assistance program for low-income individuals and families that provides benefits via an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. You can check your eligibility for SNAP here, and sign up for benefits here.
- Seasonal Farmers Markets:
- The Somerville Winter Farmers Market runs from December - April and accepts SNAP, WIC, HIP, and senior coupons.
- The Davis Square Farmers Market runs from May-November and accepts SNAP, WIC, HIP, and senior coupons.
- The Union Square Farmers Market runs from May-November and accepts SNAP, WIC, HIP, and senior coupons
- Oakdale Farms: You can spend your SNAP and redeem your HIP benefits by placing a farm-fresh order for delivery from Oakdale Farms! Instructions for using your SNAP or HIP benefits at Oakdale Farms can be found here.
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.
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.
I lost my job or part of my income. What should I do?
- 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.
What are my rights to sick time during the pandemic?
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.
What resources are available for artists?
COVID-19 Relief for Student Loans
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
Funeral and Burial Cost 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.
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:
Will my utilities be disconnected if I can’t pay my bills?
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.
Are programs available to help me pay my utility bills?
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 email@example.com 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.
Is low-cost Internet access available?
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.
Will my internet be shut off if I can’t pay?
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.
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.