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

  • Food Assistance

  • Financial Assistance

  • Housing & Utility Assistance

  • Support for Families

  • Immigrant Resources

Food Pantry Schedule (English)

Download food pantry schedule PDF
Portugues / Kreyol Ayisyen

  • There are many ways to access food in Somerville, from food pantries to grocery delivery and farmers’ market with great match discounts! Check out this guide of the different food resources available across the city.
  • Somerville Food Security Coalition is maintaining an updated list of food pantries during COVID-19. Call an organization before visiting in person, as they may have new procedures to follow, and review this quick list of options.
  • Pick up free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at four schools around the City. No ID required and one person can pick up for the entire family. Please bring a bag if you are picking up for multiple family members or for someone who needs assistance. View more information and resources on the school website.
  • 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.
  • 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. The SNAP time limit and work rules have been suspended because of COVID-19. If you were previously denied SNAP for not meeting the work rules, you should reapply for benefits. If you currently receive SNAP, you may receive a COVID-19 emergency supplement up to the maximum amount. U.S. Citizens, and some asylees, refugees, and green card holders can apply for SNAP. Parents who are not eligible for SNAP can apply for their eligible household members, such as U.S. citizen children. Note that SNAP benefits are factored into public charge determinations. You should speak with your immigration attorney before applying. If you do not have an immigration attorney, you can contact any of these organizations for help.
  • The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) provides emergency food assistance to families with school-aged children. You do not need to apply for this benefit. Families currently receiving SNAP benefits will receive the additional benefit automatically via their EBT card. Students who are enrolled in or eligible for free/reduced-price school meals, OR that attend a school with universal free school breakfast and lunch (Somerville High School, Healey School, Winter Hill School, East Somerville Community School, and Next Wave/Full Circle) will automatically receive the card. By mid-June eligible families will receive by mail: 
  1. A letter from the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) 
  2. P-EBT card

Do not throw out the letter or the card. Follow the instructions to activate your card, and make sure you keep your card because it will be reloaded with additional P-EBT funds after a few weeks. You lose your child’s case number or the letter, go to DTA Connect to retrieve the number. If you do not get a letter in the mail by mid-June or if you need help, contact Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at (800) 645-8333 (TTY 800-377-1292). This benefit is available regardless of immigration status and does not count as a negative factor for public charge determinations.

  • Seasonal Farmers' Markets (View Flyer)
    • Davis Square 
      • May 20 - November 25
      • Wednesdays 12 - 6 p.m.
      • Seniors and immunocompromised: 12 - 12:30 p.m.
      • Accepts SNAP, WIC, HIP, and senior coupons
    • Union Square 
      • Seniors and immunocompromised: 9 - 9:30 a.m.
      • May 23 - November 21
      • Saturdays 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. 
      • Accepts SNAP, WIC, HIP, and senior coupons
    • Mobile Market 
      • July 10 - October 17
        • Fridays
          • 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.: Council on Aging/SCALE (167 Holland St.) 
          • 2:30 - 4:30 p.m.: East Somerville Community School (50 Cross St.)
        • Saturday
          • 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.: North St. Housing (26 North St.)
          • 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.: Mystic Housing (530 Mystic Ave.)
      • Accepts SNAP, WIC, HIP, and senior coupons; 50% off for SNAP, WIC, MassHealth, Mystic or North St. Housing Development residents, and senior coupon users.
  • 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. This benefit is available regardless of immigration status, and does not count as a negative factor for public charge determinations.
  • You can also call 311 any time if you’re concerned about food access and they will connect you with local resources.

Yes. Pick up free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at East Somerville Community School, Winter Hill Community Innovation School, West Somerville Neighborhood School, and the Healey School. No ID required and one person can pick up for the entire family. Please bring a bag if you are picking up for multiple family members or for someone who needs assistance. View more information and resources on the school website.

Several grocery stores in the area are offering dedicated hours for seniors and other at-risk individuals, including pregnant people and people with compromised immune systems. However, it is recommended to call before heading out to shop, as policies may vary by location.

  • Market Basket
    • New Hours: 6 a.m. - 8 p.m. every day
    • Seniors Shopping: 6 a.m. - 7 a.m. 
  • Star Market 
    • New Hours: 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. every day 
    • Seniors Shopping: 6 a.m. - 7 a.m. every day
  • Stop and Shop
    • Seniors Shopping: 6 a.m. - 7:30 a.m. every day 
  • Trader Joe’s (Assembly Square)
    • New Hours: 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. every day
    • Seniors Shopping: 8 a.m. -9 a.m. every day

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 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. You can also contact the Economic Development team at [email protected]
  • 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 mobile testing unit will accept patients by appointment at roaming locations. You must call one of the phone numbers below to make an appointment during regular City Hall business hours (Monday-Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. -  4:30 p.m.; Thursday, 8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.). Please leave a message if no one answers. Staff members may be receiving a high volume of calls and will return your call as soon as possible.
  • 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 the coronavirus. Get help with loans applications, financial planning, restaurant operations, and more. Learn more here. Coaching is also available in Spanish, Portuguese, and Nepali.
  • The State also offers guidance and directives for businesses and employers during this pandemic.
  • The CARES Act Federal Aid (see section below) also provides businesses with some opportunities for support.

 

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. Alternatively, you can complete this online Contact Request Form to request a call back.
    • 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.
    • If you believe someone is using your identity to claim unemployment benefits, submit a fraud report here.
    • 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 resources are available to people who do not have employment authorization:
  • Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): This program, created as part of the CARES Act, 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.
  • 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 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 these organizations for help.
    • The Somerville Cares Fund will support Somerville community members most impacted by COVID-19 pandemic including people who have lost their jobs and are struggling to cover basic needs like food, utilities, rent/mortgage, healthcare, or child care. The fund is open to all Somerville residents, regardless of immigration status, as well as all Somerville workers, including those recently laid off from their jobs. Please see this press release for more details on the fund and how it is administered. You can apply for funds here, or donate to the fund here.

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

  • Service and tipped workers: One Fair Wage is offering cash assistance to service industry workers and workers who rely on tips.
  • Restaurant workers: Children of Restaurant Employees is offering financial assistance to restaurant workers who test positive for COVID-19 and have children at home.
  • Domestic workers: The National Domestic Workers Alliance has a fund for in-home care workers, nannies and house cleaners impacted by COVID-19.

If you know of other helpful financial resources not listed here, please email [email protected]

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers provide paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19 between April 1 and December 31, 2020. 

The FFCRA applies to most employers with fewer than 500 employees. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption in limited circumstances. Employers that employ healthcare providers or emergency responders may also elect to exclude such workers from eligibility for this leave. 

  • The FFCRA provides up to 80 hours of fully- or partially-paid sick leave to eligible employees who are unable to work for specified reasons related to COVID-19. 
    • Time off can be used if you have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19, are quarantined, under a shelter-in-place order, or need to care for a loved one who has COVID-19. Employees can also take time off to care for children whose schools have been closed in most circumstances. 
    • Part-time employees are entitled to emergency paid sick leave based on the average number of work hours in a two-week period.
  • The FFCRA also provides up to 10 additional weeks of partially-paid family leave for employees who are unable to work because they must care for their child whose school is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.

Additionally, under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law, most employees in the state also 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. If you’re eligible for both FFCRA leave and Massachusetts earned sick leave, employees may choose to take FFCRA leave first and save Massachusetts earned sick leave for later use.

For more information:

  • Click here to read through the provisions of the FFCRA. 
  • Click here for more FFCRA informational resources from the Department of Labor, including fact sheets, webinars, and informational posters in multiple languages.
  • Click here for more information about employee rights and employer obligations in Massachusetts during this pandemic.

The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is reporting that fraudulent unemployment claims are being filed with stolen personal information from prior data breaches. If you get mail about unemployment claims that you did not file or if you believe that someone has applied for unemployment benefits fraudulently with your personal information, alert the DUA by completing the secure DUA fraud reporting form or calling (877) 626-6800.

 

Artist Assistance

Video: Supporting Our Artists During a Pandemic

  • 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
  • You’ll also find an extensive list of resources for freelance artists here.

 

Student Assistance

A number of loan relief programs are available to help students:

The federal CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, helps borrowers whose loans are held by the federal government. Payments on these loans are suspended until September 30, 2020. During that time, all interest will be waived, and 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. Updates on Federal Student Loan relief are available on the Federal Student Aid Coronavirus page. 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.

Students with loans held by commercial lenders may find relief through a different program. On April 21, the Massachusetts Division of Banks announced that it had joined in a multi-state initiative that expands CARES Act protections to borrowers with commercially-owned Federal Family Education (FFEL) Program Loans and privately held student loans who are struggling to make their payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Protections include:

  • Suspension of loan payments for 90 days
  • No late payment fees
  • No negative credit reporting
  • A requirement that your loan servicer must work with you to explain different repayment options, such as income-based repayment, and enroll you in which program fits your circumstances.

Additional information and resources, including a full list of participating private student loan servicers, are included in the Division’s Consumer Advisory.

Contact your loan servicer online or by phone immediately to determine if your loans are eligible for either of these programs. 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.

If you have a No-Interest Loan from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE), you may be eligible for relief from DHE directly. On April 21, Governor Baker announced that:

  • Loan repayment will automatically be deferred from April 2020 through July 31, 2020. This deferment will not count toward the program’s permissible 36 months of available deferment (if you have already made your April payment it will be applied to your outstanding balance as usual, but it will not be refunded).
  • While accounts are being deferred, borrowers who wish to continue monthly payments may do so, without incurring late fees until July 31, 2020.
  • Accounts currently 120 days past due will not be placed into collections until August 2020.
  • Credit bureau reporting will not resume until the end of August 2020.

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

 

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

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].

 

CARES Act Federal Aid

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (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.
  • An additional $500 will be given for each child.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Any adult who is claimed as a dependent is ineligible to receive a payment. This is often the case for college students.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Expansion of unemployment benefits
    • $260 billion is directed to expand unemployment insurance programs. 
    • Federal benefits will increase $600 per week through July 2020. This is in addition to the Massachusetts weekly benefit maximum of $823. 
    • THe CARES Act extends unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks, allowing individuals to receive benefits for up to 39 weeks in Massachusetts. 
    • It also expands unemployment insurance to cover those who are self-employed, freelancers, and “gig economy” workers. 
    • New job seekers and workers who are able to continue working from home are not covered. 
  • Health Coverage
    • Private insurance plans are required to cover COVID-19 treatments and vaccine when they become available.
    • All coronavirus 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. 

The Economic Impact Payment, also called a stimulus check, is a one-time cash payment ($1,200 for most individuals) that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will distribute to eligible individuals and families. You can check on the status of your payment and the payment type here. To ensure you get your stimulus check please complete the following steps:

If you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019, or if you receive Social Security, disability (SSDI), Railroad retirement, or survivor benefits you should:

  1. Share Your Direct Deposit Information with the IRS. Stimulus checks will be distributed primarily via direct deposit. This is the fastest way to receive your check. If you have not shared a direct deposit bank account with the IRS, you can enter your direct deposit information here. If you do not provide a direct deposit bank account number to the IRS, your check will be mailed to the address on file. Note that it may take significantly longer to receive your stimulus check by mail than by direct deposit. 
  2. Complete this form if you are a recipient of Social Security, Railroad retirement, or SSDI AND you have qualifying children under age 17. The stimulus check will provide an additional $500 per qualifying child.
  3. If the IRS already has your up-to-date direct deposit information, you do not need to take any additional action to receive this money. It will be automatically deposited into your bank account. 

If you did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019 you need to:

Complete this form to request your stimulus check if you did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019. If your gross income was less than $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples), or if you were not required to file a tax return for other reasons, you must complete the request form or you will not receive a stimulus check.

Yes. Keep an eye on your mail if you have not yet received your Economic Impact Payment (EIP). EIPs are the direct stimulus payments to individuals authorized by the CARES Act. If you are eligible to receive an EIP and you haven’t yet received it via direct deposit, a Direct Express card, or a physical check, you might be getting your EIP via a prepaid Visa debit card

MetaBank will be mailing the Visa debit cards in plain envelopes from “Money Network Cardholder Services.” Do not throw away your card. Cards will be mailed to your most recent mailing address on file with the IRS. To confirm that the card mailed to you is your EIP card, check the following: 

  • Envelope is from Money Network Cardholder Services
  • Card has the Visa® name on the front and the back of the card has the name of the issuing bank, MetaBank®, N.A. 
  • The envelope will also contain information explaining that the card is your EIP Card. Be sure to review the information included with the card carefully. 

If you receive a card in the mail that does not meet those criteria, it could be a scam. Contact 311 if you are having trouble determining if your card is legitimate and consult the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information for more resources about avoiding stimulus payment scams. 

To activate your EIP card, call 1-800-240-8100. You will be asked to validate your identity by providing, at minimum, your name, address, and social security number. You will then be asked to create a 4-digit PIN required for ATM transactions and automated services. If your card has more than one name on it, only the primary Cardholder (the name listed first on the card) may activate the card.

You can use your EIP card like any other debit card to make purchases wherever Visa debit cards are accepted. You will need to enter your 4-digit pin to make purchases, get cash back during a transaction, or to withdraw cash from an ATM. In order to avoid fees, only use in-NEtwork ATMs that carry the AllPoint brand. You can use the EIP ATM Locator to find in-Network ATMs. 

To avoid a $0.25 fee, do not check your balance at the ATM, even if the ATM prompts you to check your balance. You can check your balance for free online by making an account at https://www.eipcard.com/ or by calling 1-800-240-8100. 

Most services and transactions are free of charge, but the following transactions will incur fees: 

  • Out-of-Network ATM withdrawals 
  • International ATM withdrawals
  • ATM Balance Inquiries (including In-Network)
  • Lost or stolen card reissuance
  • Bank/Teller Over-the-Counter Cash Withdrawal 

A full list of fees can be found here

You can get more information about how to activate, use, and check the balance of your card at eipcard.com.

MetaBank will be mailing the Visa debit cards in plain envelopes from “Money Network Cardholder Services.” Do not throw away your card.

 

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

  1. Economic Impact Payments. All individuals earning less than $75,000 will receive a one-time $1,200 cash Economic Impact Payment, also called a stimulus check. Married couples earning less than $150,000 will each receive a check. An additional $500 will be given for each child. You can check on the status of your payment and the payment type here.

    If you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019, or if you receive Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), or survivor benefits, make sure that your direct deposit information with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is up-to-date. You can enter and update your direct deposit information here. The IRS will automatically direct deposit the money into the bank account on file with the IRS. If you do not provide a direct deposit bank account number to the IRS, your check will be mailed to the address on file. Note that it may take significantly longer to receive your stimulus check by mail than by direct deposit. 

    If you are a recipient of Social Security, Railroad retirement, or SSDIAND you have qualifying children under age 17, complete this form to request an additional $500 per qualifiy child.

    If you did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019 because your gross income was less than $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples), or if you were not required to file a tax return for other reasons, you must complete this form to request your stimulus check.

  2. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). If you are currently receiving unemployment, the CARES Act will provide $600 per week in addition to your regular unemployment compensation retroactive to March 29 and continuing through July 31, 2020. If you already receive unemployment benefits, no additional action is required on your part to receive the additional $600 per week. If you are a new applicant for unemployment compensation, the $600 will become part of your compensation amount once your application has been processed. New applicants should apply for unemployment benefits online.
     
  3. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). 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. To file for PUA benefits, complete the online application here. This application is not available in Spanish, but there are guidance materials in Spanish here.
     
  4. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). This program is for individuals who have already exhausted their previous unemployment benefits. It will provide up to 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits. The first week a claimant can be compensated on this benefit is the week beginning March 29, 2020, and the last payable week is the week ending December 26, 2020. Individuals who have exhausted their UI benefits on or after July 6, 2019 may receive PEUC. More information PUEC is available here
  5. Small Business Supports. If you are a small business owner who has lost your own income due to business shutdown you may be able to include your salary/wages in your payroll calculation when applying for the Paycheck Protection Program Loan, Economic Injury Loan, and other small business support programs (see below). You should talk to your bank about the best way to maximize the benefits of each program for your situation.

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.

Apply online for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). As part of the CARES Act, PUA provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of a COVID-19-related reason but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits.

You may also be eligible to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program. The SBA shared additional guidance in this document.

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 a 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 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 here.

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 resources are available to people who do not have employment authorization:

 

Information and updates on small business loan programs during COVID-19 is available on this Small Business Adminstration website. These are some options that can help small businesses:

  1. Paycheck Protection Program Loan
    New applicants should reach out to their banks immediately to begin the application process. The new deadline to apply is August 8, 2020. The Paycheck Protection Program is meant to help businesses maintain cash-flow and keep workers on payroll. Owners’ wages/salary can be included in the payroll calculations. 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. Small businesses (under 500 employees), nonprofits, sole proprietors, independent contractors, self-employed persons, and tribal businesses are able to apply.
  2. 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.
     
  3. Economic Injury Disaster Loans & Emergency Economic Injury Grants
    These low-interest loans are available for Massachusetts businesses affected by novel coronavirus. Applicants can use these funds to pay for expenses that could have been met had the coronavirus disaster not occurred, including payroll and operating expenses.Eligibility: Businesses with under 500 employees, sole proprietors, independent contractors, cooperatives and employee-owned businesses, tribal small businesses, and most private nonprofits of any size. Applicants can also request an emergency advance as part of their application for an EIDL. This advance, up to $10,000, can be available within three days, does not need to be repaid, 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. See more information about the SBA's offerings to businesses here.
  4. 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.  Information and updates on small business loan programs during COVID-19 is available on this Small Business Adminstration website

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 Paycheck Protection Program reopened April 27 with $310 billion in loan guarantees after exhausting $349 billion in guarantees April 3-16. If you have applied to this program but your loan has not yet been approved, or if you would still like to apply, watch for updates here.

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.

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.

 

Tax Filing and Payment Extensions

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.

Property tax bills, which would otherwise be due on May 1, are now due June 1, but will not incur any interest or penalty if paid by June 29. For excise tax and water bills, the City’s Treasury Department will not charge any interest or penalties for bills with a due date of March 10 or later, as long as they are paid by June 29. However, because taxes and water and sewer fees fund essential services, residents and homeowners who are able to pay on time are encouraged to do so.

Mortgage & Rental Assistance

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. If you won’t be able to pay your rent, send this form to your landlord within 30 days of the missed payment. Instructions on how to fill out the form are here. One form must be filled out for each month of missed payment. If you can’t access the form, you can email or send a letter to your landlord with the same information and documentation. This will protect you from late fees and negative credit reporting under the MA Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium Act. More information about support for renters is also available on our Tenant FAQs.
  • 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. More information about support for property owners is also available Property Owner FAQs.

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 all offices are being staffed remotely but 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. If you’re interested in applying for RAFT funds, please contact the Office of Housing Stability by completing this online referral form or calling 617-625-6600 Ext. 2581. More information about support for renters and property owners is also available on our Tenant FAQs and Property Owner FAQs.

Evictions and foreclosures have been banned in Massachusetts during the statewide COVID-19 state of emergency. Somerville’s citywide eviction moratorium will also remain in effect until the City’s local COVID-19 state of emergency has been lifted. You will still be responsible for your rent or mortgage payments, so contact your landlord or lender to talk through delayed or partial payment options if you need. For further assistance, Somerville residents should contact the Office of Housing Stability by completing this online referral form or calling 617-625-6600 Ext. 2581. More information about support for renters and property owners is also available on our Tenant FAQs and Property Owner FAQs.

On April 20, Governor Baker signed the Massachusetts Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium Act into law. The new state law bans all non-essential evictions and foreclosures in Massachusetts through October 17. This law expands Somerville’s eviction moratorium, which will remain in effect until the City’s state of emergency has been lifted.

For renters, this law:

  • Bans all stages of non-essential evictions.
    • Landlords may not issue a notice to quit, which starts the eviction process.
    • Courts may not issue executions, which are orders that a sheriff or constable could enforce to force a resident to move out of their home.
  • Bans late fees and negative reporting for non-payment. 
    • Landlords may not charge a late fee for non-payment of rent or give negative data to credit reporting agencies, but tenants must provide documentation that non-payment was due to COVID-19 financial impact within 30 days of the missed rent payment. Tenants should send this form to their landlord within 30 days of the missed payment. Instructions on how to fill out the form are here. One form must be filled out for each month of missed payment. As an alternative to the form, tenants can email or send a letter to their landlord with the same information and documentation.
  • Bans eviction actions in court.
    • Courts cannot accept filings, enter judgments, issue executions for possession, or schedule a court event for non-essential evictions.

If your landlord is holding your last month’s rent they can use it to pay their own mortgage, utility, and repair expenses relating to your apartment or building but they cannot ask you to pay last month’s rent again, and they still owe you annual interest payments on this money as if they had not used it.

For homeowners, this law:

  • Bans residential foreclosures.
    • Creditors and mortgagees are prohibited from beginning the foreclosure process. 
    • Forbearance must be granted on mortgage payments for up to 180 days if requested. Mortgagees cannot give negative mortgage payment data to credit reporting agencies. Fees and interest may not accrue while mortgage is in forbearance.

The law does not “cancel” rent or mortgage payments and it does not protect from eviction or foreclosure once the State determines that the public health emergency no longer exists. Any missed payment will still be due, so you should contact your landlord or lender to talk through delayed or partial payment options. As discussed above, there may be some rental and mortgage assistance available. Somerville residents should contact the Office of Housing Stability by completing this online referral form or calling 617-625-6600 Ext. 2581. More information about support for renters and property owners is also available on our Tenant FAQs and Property Owner FAQs.

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. 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.

You can go to the Office of Housing Stability’s website, complete this online referral form, 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!

 

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.

Eversource and National Grid offer several income-eligible programs that can help to lower your electricity costs and pay off overdue bills.

Weatherization and Appliance Management (Swap Out)

Community Action Programs Inter-City (CAPIC), a local nonprofit organization, administers the Income Eligible weatherization and appliance management programs for Somerville. You could receive:

  • A replacement window A/C unit
  • A replacement dehumidifier
  • ENERGY STAR certified LED light bulbs
  • And more energy saving devices. 

This program is currently being offered remotely and products can be delivered directly to your home without requiring an in-person visit. Check your eligibility in the table below. 

Contact 617-884-6130 to schedule an appointment. CAPIC is currently operating remotely so please be prepared to leave a detailed message. Someone from CAPIC will return your phone call. 

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. Income Limits

# of Persons in Household

Income Eligible Program

1

$37,360

2

$48,855

3

$60,351

4

$71,846

5

$83,341

6

$94,837

7

$96,992

8

$99,147

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, both Comcast and RCN are offering 60 days of free Internet access to new low-income subscribers. After the first 60 days, each service costs $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.

Yes. 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.

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.

During the summer, SomerCamp has a menu of free, online summer activities for Somerville youth in elementary school, middle school, and high school. SomerCamp provides access to high quality, age-appropriate, hands-on summer activities like boxing classes, parkour lessons, photography workshops, coding, music production, and group game nights facilitated by a variety of local providers - including Parts and Crafts, Somerville Media Center, Parkour Generations, Teen Empowerment, and the Beautiful Stuff Project. Sign up for one or all of them on the SomerCamp website.

  • As of April 1, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides up to 80 hours of partially-paid sick leave to eligible employees who are unable to work because they need to care for a loved one who has COVID-19.
    • The FFCRA also provides up to 12 weeks of partially-paid family leave for employees who are unable to work because they must care for their child whose school is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.
  • The FFCRA applies to most employers with fewer than 500 employees. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption in limited circumstances. Employers that employ healthcare providers or emergency responders may also elect to exclude such workers from eligibility for this leave.
  • Additionally, under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law, most employees in the state also 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. If you’re eligible for both FFCRA leave and Massachusetts earned sick leave, employees may choose to take FFCRA leave first and save Massachusetts earned sick leave for later use.

For more information:

  • Click here to read through the provisions of the FFCRA. 
  • Click here for more FFCRA informational resources from the Department of Labor, including fact sheets, webinars, and informational posters in multiple languages. 
  • Click here for more information about employee rights and employer obligations in Massachusetts during this pandemic.

Free diapers will be distributed to families with babies or young children every Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. at East Somerville Community School and the West Somerville Neighborhood School. Distribution will continue through July, as supplies last.

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].

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