Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

COVID-19 Resources for Workers, Small Businesses, and Families

May 4, 2020
The Serrano Report

Dear Friend,

As we face COVID-19 and the devastating impact it is having in our community, I want to share some resources available to families and local businesses facing layoffs, loss of income, lack of access to health care, or the death of a loved one.

The Bronx has been one of the hardest-hit areas in New York City during this crisis, but we are here to help. The city, state, and federal government have made available many resources and launched several initiatives to help you during this difficult time.

HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

As part of the CARES Act, Congress approved $349 billion in funding to help businesses and nonprofits that employ less than 500 people through the Small Business Administration Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Two weeks ago, Congress approved $310 Billion more in funding for the program, which is designed to incentivize small businesses to keep their employees on the payroll.  The funding is awarded through forgivable loans to cover payroll (up to $100,000/employee), interest on mortgages, rent, and utility payments. For more information about the program, please visit:  https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program

The Small Business Administration also offers other options to help small businesses through this challenging time.  The agency has new funding to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans (and smaller advances loans) of up to $10,000 to small businesses experiencing economic loss as a result of the pandemic.  More information can be found at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/economic-injury-disaster-loan-emergency-advance or at https://www.sba.gov/page/disaster-loan-applications.

New York City is also supporting small businesses through the Small Business Continuity Fund, which provides loans of up to $75,000 to businesses with up to 99 employees. For more information about the City’s programs to help small businesses, you can visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/sbs/businesses/covid19-business-outreach.page .
 

FINANCIAL HELP FOR INDIVIDUALS - ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS

As part of the CARES Act, Congress also approved financial help for individuals in response to the crisis. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has already started sending Economic Impact Payments to taxpayers; most people do not have to take any action to receive the payment by direct deposit or paper check. To check the status of your check visit: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments.

Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will automatically receive Economic Impact Payments of $1,200 no later than early May with no further action required on their part. However, for Social Security and SSI recipients with dependents, you may have to take extra steps to claim the additional $500 for qualifying children. For taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019, the child payments will be automatic. Many benefit recipients, however, aren’t required to file tax returns. Social Security and SSI recipients who have dependents and who have not filed taxes can quickly register by visiting the special tool available only on IRS.gov providing information about themselves and their dependents in the Non-Filers section.

Social Security and SSI recipients will generally receive the automatic payments by direct deposit, Direct Express debit card, or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their usual benefits. For individuals with dependents who use Direct Express debit cards, additional information will be available soon on the IRS web site regarding the necessary steps they should take when claiming children under 17.

General information about the Economic Impact Payments is available at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center .


UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE  

For those who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, the New York State Department of Labor has created a chart to guide individuals seeking unemployment benefits after the passage of the federal CARES Act. The CARES Act provides enhanced Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for New Yorkers, and the State Department of Labor has created a chart to guide individuals seeking unemployment benefits after its passage. To file for unemployment insurance in New York, please visit https://labor.ny.gov/unemploymentassistance.shtm.  If you have any issues filing for unemployment insurance, please contact my district office for help at 718-620-0084.


RENT, MORTGAGE & OTHER HOUSING ASSISTANCE

If you are having trouble paying your rent or mortgage, there are various City programs and initiatives that help reduce the burden on tenants and homeowners during this time.

Cash Assistance
If your work hours have been reduced and you are unable to pay your rent, you can apply for a Cash Assistance special grant request (Emergency One Time Assistance) to get benefits for emergencies through Access HRA.

Rent Reduction
NYCHA residents that experience a loss of income may qualify for a rent reduction. Households that have experienced a complete income loss may be elegible for the Zero Income Policy.

Property Taxes Relief
If you are a homeowner having challenges paying their property taxes, the Department of Finance offers several programs to assist with financial hardship, including exemption programs as well as a new Property Tax and Interest Deferral (PT AID) program for those who qualify. More information here.
 
ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE

If you do not have health insurance or have lost insurance as a result of this crisis, the NY State of Health Department recently announced a Special Enrollment Period under the Affordable Care Act through May 15 in response to Coronavirus. Visit their website or call 1-855-355-5777 to check eligibility.

To apply for COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave, please visit https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/if-you-are-quarantined-yourself

Resources are also available for mental health.  Please contact 1-888-NYC-WELL, text “WELL” to 65173 or visit: https://nycwell.cityofnewyork.us. The City is also connecting older New Yorkers who are feeling isolated with friendly volunteers to talk with over the phone through the Friendly Visiting Program. For more information, please call 212-AGING-NYC (212-244-6469).

There are testing sites operating in the Bronx. Sites have different hours, and some require appointments and only serve certain segments of the population. Click here for more information: https://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/pressrelease/nyc-health-hospitals-opens-5-new-covid-19-testing-sites/
 
ACCESS TO FOOD

Grab and Go Meals for All New Yorkers
With historic high unemployment, more New Yorkers are experiencing food insecurity for the first time. To help all ensure everyone has food on their table, the City is providing grab and go meals for all New Yorkers. No one is turned away, and participants can pick up to three meals. To find a location, text “NYCFOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877 or visit https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-life/food/free-meals.

  • For residents observing Ramadan, the city is increasing supply of halal meals at 32 DOE Grab & Go sites across all five boroughs. In addition to the 32 receiving this increase, all 400+ sites will continue to have halal meals available.
  • Bronx sites with increased halal meals are:
    PS/IS 194 – 2365 Waterbury Ave, Bronx, NY 10462
    Fannie Lou Hamer Middle School – 1021 Jennings Street, Bronx, NY 10460
    PS 47 – 1794 E 172nd St, Bronx, NY 10472
    PS 106 Parkchester – 1514 Olmstead Avenue, Bronx, NY 10462
    MS 127 (JHS 127) – 1560 Purdy St, Bronx, NY 10462

"Feeding New York," details the New York City's plan to help food insecure New Yorkers throughout this crisis and protect the security of the City's food supply chain. From Meal Hubs at public schools to home deliveries to seniors and other vulnerable populations, the City has served millions of meals to hungry New Yorkers during the crisis. Additional information on COVID-19 food assistance resources is available online at https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dsny/contact/services/COVID-19FoodAssistance.

BURIAL ISSUES

My office has heard of many cases of families that are having trouble burying a loved one. If you or someone you know has lost a loved one and is having issues with the burial, please feel free to contact my office for help. My staff is ready to assist with complex cases involving federal agencies. 

You can learn more about the resources available to help New Yorkers face the challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic by visiting my website: https://serrano.house.gov/media-center/serrano-report/resources-new-yorkers-during-coronavirus-pandemic. This list of resources is regularly updated as information becomes available. Make sure to visit it frequently and feel free to contact my staff at 718-620-0084 if you have any questions or need assistance.


Sincerely,

Congressman Jose E. Serrano