Here’s our all-encompassing guide to all the things you need to know about as a local New Yorker dealing with the Coronavirus. From unemployment benefits to renters’ rights to mental health – we’ve compiled everything.
We spent hours and hours talking to experts, sifting through local and national news sites, and finally, listening to your questions via Instagram to compile this guide. We get it – there’s a ton of info out there, much of which is confusing or hard to understand and we’ve broken it down into simple, easy to use info here.
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NYC Evictions, Renters Rights & Help If You Can’t Pay Your Rent
As fears swelled over the deadline of the Eviction Moratorium, Gov Cuomo passed the Tenant Harbor Act which prevents ANYONE from being evicted due to non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 until at least August 20th. The act reads:
“Prior to the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, a tenant who was unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 crisis could be evicted for non-payment as soon as the moratorium ended. Now, because of the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, a court can never use unpaid rent that accrued during the COVID-19 period as the basis for a non-payment eviction of a financially burdened tenant; however, a court could impose a money judgment. “
This also prevents renters from being charged late fees and allowing them to use their security deposit as payment.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Pay Rent? (Yo Jeff Bezos, What’s Your Venmo tho)
Covid Rental Assistance is a new initiative that came into play on July 16th, 2020, and is ONLY avail until July 31st. There is only a TWO WEEK window to apply for up to 4 months of rent coverage so make sure to apply now. The details are as follows:
- Must be a renter with a primary residence in New York State.
- Before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, household income (including unemployment benefits) must be below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, adjusted for household size. Applicants can find the Area Median Income for their county, based on household size, on HCR’s website here.
- Before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, the household must have been “rent burdened,” which is defined as paying more than 30 percent of gross monthly income towards rent.
- Applicants must have lost income during any period between April 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020.
When Mom Can’t Answer Your Questions…It’s Time to Talk to the Legal Experts
First off: Did you know that EVERYBODY has the right to counsel? You can obtain a free lawyer or guidance through the Office of Criminal Justice (OCJ). OCJ legal services are free and you do not have to be an existing HRA client to apply. Louder for those in the back: Legal services are available regardless of immigration status.
- During the emergency, OCJ legal providers are available Monday through Friday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm to provide over-the-phone legal assistance to callers with legal questions or issues about tenancy, eviction, or landlord-tenant disputes. For more information, please call 311 for the City’s Tenant Helpline or email email@example.com.
What If I’m Undocumented?
A surprising advocate in these tough times? The Catholic Church. The Catholic Charities of NY have been doing God’s work (Pun intended. Get it?) and committed to offering up FREE resources for helping renters with eviction, especially within non-English speaking, immigrant, and refugee communities.
They help in many ways: negotiate with landlords, work with legal services, offer budget management skills, and limited financial assistance. Visit the site HERE for a list of free resources. Check the site for ways to get funding as well.
Unfortunately, NYS hasn’t done ANYTHING to help the undocumented. There was a $20 million fund by Open Sources Foundation that was meant to be dispersed across non-profits helping the undocumented. To escape ICE, the donation and groups that have received the funds have been shrouded in mystery and spread via word of mouth.
Documented NY reports:
Documented has been able to independently determine seven groups that distributed the OSF funds. They are African Communities Together, Alianza Ecuatoriana, La Colmena, the Laundry Worker Center, the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Make the Road New York, and The Street Vendor Project. WNYC also previously reported that Chhaya is among the groups.
Housing Justice for All – is a non-profit coalition fighting to #cancelrent. You can visit their site for a list of free resources, and to sign a petition to end rent for all. Learn how to get your building together for a rent strike/
Check back here for updates as we find out more.
What if I own property though?
First off, good for you! It’s wild to own property in NYC, and if you do – you’re already doing better than me. In any case – there are some protections for you — visit HERE for more information. The NYS declares:
The Department of Financial Services has issued a new directive to New York State mortgage servicers to provide 90-day mortgage relief to mortgage borrowers impacted by the novel coronavirus.
The directive includes:
- Waiving mortgage payments based on financial hardship;
- No negative reporting to credit bureaus;
- Grace period for loan modification;
- No late payment fees or online payment fees; and
- Postponing or suspending foreclosures.
What Should I Do Once Unemployment Runs Out in July?
So there’s a little bit of confusion out there. It even took us a few hours to navigate the topic of unemployment running out. First, let’s talk about the different types of unemployment benefits out there. Traditional UI (Unemployment Insurance) and then PUA, PUC, AND PEUC – defined below by NYS.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – Extended eligibility for individuals who have traditionally been ineligible for UI benefits (e.g., self-employed workers, independent contractors, and farmers). They can have put to 46 weeks of benefits.
Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) – An additional $600 per week, on top of regular benefits, to all UI recipients through July 31, 2020
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – An additional 13 weeks of UI benefits, beyond the regular 26 weeks already provided, for a total of 39 weeks of coverage.
As of press time – the $600 Pandemic Unemployment Compensation is ending the week of July 26, 2020. However, traditional unemployment insurance is not. The NYS is now offering EXTENDED BENEFITS once your regular benefits and 13 weeks of PEUC ($600) are done for an extra 20 weeks, set to expire in December 2020.
While this will most likely not cover rent, and the disappearance of the $600 a week will be a huge punch in New Yorkers faces, there will be some light cushioning. The NYS claims below:
New Yorkers who are receiving regular Unemployment Insurance benefits are eligible for up to 59 weeks of benefits. (This includes 26 weeks of regular benefits, 13 weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and up to 20 weeks of Extended Benefits (EB).)
Keep reading to find out when the second stimulus check is supposed to come out.
What If I’m Self Employed, an Independent Contractor, Gig Economy Worker, or a Farmer?
If you are an independent contractor, self-employed, gig economy worker, or farmer, you will NOT be allowed to apply for EXTENDED BENEFITS, but you have 46 weeks of coverage until Dec 2020 through PUA. You can file through a separate link HERE without needing to be approved by traditional UI. Make sure to file before July 26 to get the PUA.
When Will We Get a Second Stimulus Bill?
The 1,800 page, $3 Trillion dollar stimulus package, HEROES ACT was approved by the House of Representatives on May 15th. The Act would offer up $600 PUA extensions and UI benefits until 2021. It’s yet to be passed by the Senate, which Republicans are still debating over. Our fingers are crossed they’ll make a decision soon because the Senate’s August recess runs from August 10 – September 7th, meaning it won’t get picked up until September. In terms of the likelihood of the passage being passed?
The bill will now head to the Senate, where it is unlikely to gain much traction among the Republican-controlled chamber. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. called the bill “an unserious product from an unserious majority.” President Donald Trump this week said the bill is “DOA.”
No word yet… until then folks, hold steady.
Mental Health…Cause Everyone is Stressed Out
It’s normal. You may be anxious about the future. Having trouble sleeping? Or maybe just lonely? Regardless, we have all been going through a global pandemic and whirlwind of change – you may be going through emotions that you didn’t even realize. You can sign up for FREE online mental health services. The NYS website declares:
As of March 26, more than 8,600 mental health professionals, including individuals from other states, have signed up to provide free online mental health services. New Yorkers can call the state’s hotline at 1-844-863-9314 to schedule a free appointment.
More Things To Know
- Major utilities will suspend service shutoffs to households during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- *APPLY* NYC HRA ASSISTANCE – Apply for an ACCESS HRA account where you can qualify for food stamps, health insurance, MTA fare reduction, and possibly emergency cash
- Federal Student Loan interest has been waived for the time being until September.
- The New York State of Health and the New York State Department of Financial Services have announced a special open enrollment period for uninsured New Yorkers that has been extended to August 15th. Visit the site to apply (more details below).
- Low-income families without the internet can have access to FREE service for 60 days for K-12 or college students via Charter Communications AT&T and Verizon.
- All public schools will have FREE “grab and go” meals for children from 7:30AM – 1:30PM, every weekday, regardless if that child attends the school or not.
- Beginning Thursday, March 19th, all Stop & Shop locations will open early between 6:00am-7:30am only to customers 60 and older.
Looking to do something hands-on within your community?
Volunteer to pick up groceries, get medicine, and do other tasks for elderly and high-risk neighbors via Invisiblehandsdeliver.com , through NYC UNITED AGAINST CORONA VIRUS or simply asking your neighbors.
Do you want to donate $$$ to the cause?
Support Restaurants /small businesses by ordering takeout and delivery if they are open. You can also purchase a gift card from them to use at a future time, if they do not have a gift card option, you can set up a gift card option for them via HelpMainStreet for free. 100% of proceeds go to the business owners. Also support some of our favorite charities:
Just do this…Foster a Pet!!!
Animal Care Centers of NYC is always looking for volunteers to foster their pets!! There are so many adorable animals that need a home at any given time. As of now, sign- ups are temporarily closed thanks to so many amazing fosterers, but you can sign up HERE to be notified when applications open back up.
Here are a few funds & resources for Freelancers/Restaurant Workers etc.
*RESOURCE* Covid-19 and Freelance Resource Center – This is an aggregated list of FREE resources, opportunities, and financial relief options available to artists of all disciplines.
*DONATE* Restaurant Workers Community Foundation – The RCWF Board of Directors has approved directing funds raised during this crisis to be allocated in the following ways:
- 50% FOR DIRECT RELIEF TO INDIVIDUAL RESTAURANT WORKERS
- 25% FOR NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS SERVING RESTAURANT WORKERS IN CRISIS
- 25% FOR ZERO-INTEREST LOANS FOR RESTAURANTS TO GET BACK UP AND RUNNING
*DONATE OR APPLY * USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program – This fund is for bartenders or any bar staff affected by strenuous circumstances, anyone in the 50 states can apply and you do NOT need to be a member to apply for funds. Share this with any of your bar friends!
*APPLY* The Nighlife Department of NYC – The of Nightlife is gathering information on lost income from COVID-19-related business closures and event cancellations in bars, live music venues, nightclubs, lounges, restaurants, and other social and cultural spaces. If you are a worker, performer, contractor, or business owner in New York City nightlife, please provide details for your canceled shifts, gigs, events, and other lost business income, revenue, or work opportunities so that we can share details with city-wide policy makers about the impacts of these closures.
The New York State of Health and the New York State Department of Financial Services have announced a special open enrollment period for uninsured New Yorkers. Visit the site to apply.
- ALL New Yorkers (including undocumented residents) can get FREE testing for the Coronavirus as well as Telehealth visits.
Before going out, most hospitals have their own telehealth department where you can see a doctor for a virtual appointment. Co-payments for telehealth visits will be waived for all insurances. You will have to check with your insurance if it is waived automatically or reimbursed.
- MOUNTSINAI.ORG ($25)
- NY PRESBYTERIAN ($49)
- NYU LANGONE VIRTUAL URGENT CARE ($126)
- SAMIAID ($59)
Most insurances including Medicaid now covers a 90-day supply for most prescription medications and will allow early refills due to quarantine or outbreak. Check with your health insurance company.
Stay tuned by following us on Instagram or signing up for our newsletter. We’ll continue to update this article. Hope you are staying safe!
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