If you find yourself struggling to make ends meet, know you are not alone. United Way remains steadfast in our fight to put every person, in every community, on a path toward financial stability.
Accessing Financial Assistance
Economic Impact Payments
The Federal government passed the CARES Act to provide immediate financial relief to struggling families. These Economic Impact Payments, which are being distributed by the IRS, will provide $1,200 to individuals that earn less than $75,000 and an additional $500 for each child under 17. Most will receive their payment automatically, but millions will have to take action with the IRS to obtain their funds.
If you have lost income, you may be eligible to receive Unemployment Insurance. The CARES Act expanded access to Unemployment Insurance to include those who have been fired, laid off, furloughed, experienced a reduction in work hours, are unable to work due to being quarantined, at risk of exposure to coronavirus, or caring for a family member due to coronavirus. Those who are self-employed, including independent contractors, freelancers, and gig economy workers, are also eligible. Additionally, the weekly benefit provided in each state has been increased by $600 through July 31, 2020. Use this resource from the Department of Labor to learn more and apply.
United Ways across the country are providing support to individuals and organizations that have been adversely affected by COVID-19. The best way to find resources in your area is to call 211 and speak with a trained resource and referral specialist. Learn more about other financial resources by visiting 211's COVID-19 Pandemic Resources page.
Managing Your Expenses
Even with financial assistance, you may still have trouble paying your rent and other bills.
If you are unable to make your rent payment, reach out to your landlord to ask them to waive late fees and work out an alternative payment plan. You may find this sample landlord email helpful, which was produced by Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, a United Way partner. If you and your landlord are unable to reach an agreement, reach out to your local United Way or contact 211 to locate free legal assistance that can help you avoid eviction.
If you are unable to pay your mortgage, contact your loan servicer to ask them about your mortgage relief options. The CARES Act pauses foreclosures and provides forbearance options to homeowners with federally backed mortgages, which may allow you to delay or restructure your payments. If your mortgage is not federally backed, your loan servicer can still help you identify alternative payment plans or mortgage relief options enacted by your state. Review this guide by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to understand your options and learn if you have a federally backed mortgage.
If you are having trouble making your credit card payments, contact the issuer by calling the number located on the back of your card or in your monthly statement. Many creditors are providing their customers with debt relief, including waived fees and deferred payments. Carefully consider whether a deferred payment plan or increased credit limit is right for you, as high-interest rates can make these forms of immediate financial relief very expensive, and it could take you years to repay.
You may also benefit from working with a financial counselor that can provide you with personalized advice based on your financial situation and goals. Contact 211 or your local United Way to learn about free financial counseling available in your area.
Additional Tools and Resources
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's post, How you can protect yourself financially from the impacts of the coronavirus, can help you to strategically manage your debts and protect your credit.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) has a Coronavirus Financial Toolkit available online. NFCC can also connect you to free financial counseling, available nationwide.
The AFL-CIO survival guide to unemployment, When the Paycheck Stops, includes a section on personal finances.
The Bottom Line
You are not in this fight alone. If you still have questions, are unsure where to start, or have additional financial, physical, or mental health needs, please contact 211 or visit 211's COVID-19 Pandemic Resources page.