Individuals experiencing financial hardship should be proactively communicating with creditors, utility companies, and service providers to understand what assistance they are offering or to request flexibility, relief, and payment plans.
Individuals Applying for Assistance
County Assistance Offices will continue to process applications for benefits such as SNAP and TANF and maintain existing cases.
- No benefits will be terminated at this time for failure to provide any sort of verification.
- Individuals should continue to apply for benefits through https://www.compass.state.pa.us/
- It has been reported that individuals have experienced difficulty applying through the mobile phone app. DHS encourages people to use the website instead of the app to apply – it is mobile responsive and will work on a smartphone.
Emergency Cash Assistance Program (ECAP)
PA Department of Human Services has announced an Emergency Cash Assistance Program (ECAP). ECAP will be open to families with a child under age 18 or pregnant women making 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or less.
Families must also meet resource limits and have at least one person who was employed as of March 11, 2020 and lost employment or experienced an hour and wage reduction of at least 50 percent for at least two weeks due to the pandemic. Eligible families will receive a one-time payment equal to two months of TANF benefits for their household size.
When DHS first announced the Emergency Assistance Program (EAP), it was slated to end on June 12 or when funds were expended. Funds remain available and this program has been extended, and applications are now due by July 12. Families should be prepared to submit all necessary documentation with their application to expedite processing and avoid having to apply again. Applications are accepted at any time, and previously-rejected applications can be resubmitted.
Assistance for Veterans
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs’ (DMVA) Office of Veterans Affairs (OVA) continues to process applications for Veterans Temporary Assistance and the Military Family Relief Assistance Program. Applications are initiated with the county director for veterans’ affairs (CDVA). However, if the CDVA staff members are not available due to a county office closure, the veteran may contact DMVA OVA directly at 800-547-2838 or by email Raemail@example.com. For more information on Veterans Temporary Assistance visit this website. For more information on the Military Family Relief Assistance Program visit this website.
Mortgage Assistance for Properties with Federally Backed Loans
Mortgage loan payments for multifamily properties with federally backed loans (Fannie, Freddie, HUD) can be delayed. If the borrower was current on their mortgage payments as of Feb 1st 2020, they may request forbearance. Forbearance period is 30 days but borrowers can request 2 additional extensions of 30 days. This is for individuals and companies who own apartment complexes and other multifamily property communities. How it effects individuals:
- If a multifamily property receives forbearance, they cannot evict or initiate eviction procedures against tenants for nonpayment of rent or other fees and charges, or charge late fees, penalties, or other charges to tenants for late payment of rent.
- They cannot require tenants to vacate property until 30 days after the landlord provides the tenant with a notice, and that notice may not be issued until after the expiration of forbearance.
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced an extension of its foreclosure and eviction moratorium through June 30, 2020, for homeowners with FHA-insured Single Family mortgages
Moratoriums on Evictions
- CARES Act Protection:
- For the 120 days following the enactment, landlords of federally backed multifamily properties (Fannie, Freddie, and HUD) cannot make any filing to recover possession of the properties from a tenant for nonpayment of rent or other fees. The cannot charge fees, penalties, or other charges to the tenant related to nonpayment of rent. Landlords also cannot provide any notices to vacate during 120 day period.
- Tenants are not required to vacate until 30 days after notice and that notice cannot be given during the 120 day period.
- This eviction moratorium is NOT limited to tenants affected by COVID-19.
- On May 7th, Governor Wolf signed an executive order halting evictions and foreclosure through July 10, 2020. It was later amended to specify this only includes evictions and foreclosures due to lack of payment or because a tenant has overstayed a lease.
- Local PA courts may extend the moratorium in their regions at their discretion.
- See the PA Housing Alliance for up-to-date information
PEMA Guidance for Emergency Housing
- PEMA Guidance for Emergency Housing for Isolated & Quarantined Persons in Pennsylvania
- Quarantine Sheltering for Homeless Populations FAQs
- Please note that this process requires significant staff time to navigate and set it place in local communities
Moratorium on Utility Terminations
Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairman signed an emergency order prohibiting electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication and steam utility terminations. The moratorium will remain in place for as long as the Proclamation of Disaster, issued by Gov. Tom Wolf on March 6 related to the Coronavirus, is in effect.
Options for Consumers
Utilities also have a variety of other options to help consumers, including:
- “Budget billing” – which takes a customer’s annual utility costs and averages them out over 12 months so that bills don’t jump up or down from month to month
- “Payment plans” to help address past-due bills or delinquent balances over a period of time;
- Various “hardship funds” supported by utilities and donations from utility customers along with non-profit and charitable organizations operating in the Commonwealth; and,
- “Lifeline service” – contact your telephone company or a participating wireless services provider about Lifeline, a federal financial support program that helps eligible low-income consumers and households to keep their telephone and internet access. More information on Lifeline is available at www.lifelinesupport.org. You can also call Lifeline at 1-800-234-9473 between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.
- Additionally, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may also have funds available to help eligible customers – providing financial assistance with heating-related utilities and crisis funding to address emergency situations. Consumers are urged to call their utility to inquire about such programs.
LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program
The LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program will offer a crisis benefit and a supplemental payment for households that previously received a crisis payment made directly to utility companies or fuel providers to help offset costs for home utilities. Individuals may be eligible if their household:
- Has their main or secondary energy source completely shut-off;
- Is notified that their utility service will be shut off in the next 60 days;
- Has broken energy equipment or leaking lines that must be fixed or replace; or,
- Is in danger of being without fuel in 15 days or less.
- Owes funds to a utility provider that would constitute a service termination if not for the Public Utility Commission’s moratorium on terminations.
LIHEAP Recovery Crisis program will open on May 18, 2020, and run through August 31, 2020, or until all budgeted funding is expended.
Assistance for Students/Borrowers of Student Loans
Student Loan Relief
Temporary student loan relief: All loan and interest payments would be deferred through Sept. 30 without penalty to the borrower for all federally owned student loans.
The five-month PA budget package, signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on May 29, provides relief for borrowers of private student loans that are owned by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). Borrowers of PA Forward Student Loan Program, Keystone Extra loans, and MedBest loans will automatically receive relief. For the first time nationally, critical federal protections are extended to these private student loans by:
- Automatically pausing payments for borrowers in repayment status through September 30, 2020,
- Setting the loan interest rate to zero through September 30, 2020,
- Backdating interest rate relief to start March 13, 2020.
Refunding Payments Made via 529 Accounts
Some universities and colleges are refunding partial payments they accepted for room and board for the 2020 Spring semester. Families that originally withdrew the money from a 529 college savings account will have the option to put the refunds back into a 529 account for the same student with no tax or penalty.
Generally, the re-contribution must be made within 60 days of the refund date. However, under temporary Internal Revenue Service guidance, if that 60-day period ends on or after April 1 and before July 15, the re-contribution can be made any time before the later of July 15 or 60 days after the refund date. The refunded money could be subjected to federal and state taxes and penalties if it remains outside a 529 plan and is not used for qualified educational expenses.
Standard Unemployment Compensation Information
People affected by COVID-19 who are financially harmed because of business closures may be eligible for Unemployment Compensation.
- The waiting week and work search requirements are temporarily suspended
- When someone is first unemployed, they open a claim and can then begin to file biweekly claims once they receive a pin that is mailed to them. Pin numbers are typically received within five to seven days after someone initially files a claim for unemployment but some have been taking between two to three weeks. Anyone who received their pin late will still be able to file for an old week. As of April 14th, the UC office is reporting that they are caught up on pins.
- Someone should not file a new application if they have not received a pin as it would result in problems if there are two claims for one person. People experiencing issues are urged to either call the service center at 1-888-313-7284 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org while noting that Mondays and Tuesdays are the busiest days for calls.
- People who experience delays getting in contact with L&I will not lose benefits and that their benefits will be backdated to when they were initially unemployed.
- All UC claimants have the choice of receiving their payments via debit card or direct deposit.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC program is available for individuals whose regular unemployment benefits have expired or will expire soon. It is available beginning with week ending April 4, 2020, but not for weeks after December 26, 2020.
PEUC is a temporary federal program that provides 13 weeks of additional unemployment benefits to qualified individuals whose regular unemployment benefits were exhausted on or after July 6, 2019.
Regular unemployment benefits must expire before applying for PEUC. Apply here.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provides an additional $600 per week beyond UC or PUA benefits, and extends benefits for an additional 13 weeks
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act encompasses people who are not normally qualified for unemployment insurance, such as those who are self-employed or are gig workers. It also includes people who may not have qualified for a new claim because they do not have enough wages or were supposed to start a new job but were unable to due to the pandemic.
- You can apply for PUA and receive guidance here.
- These claims will also be eligible for the extra $600.
- PUA will last for at most 26 weeks, but the federal government can end it earlier if needed.
Scams & Fraud Alert
Attorney General Josh Shapiro warned Pennsylvanians that scammers are trying to take advantage of the historic rise in unemployment across the Commonwealth by using fake unemployment filing websites in order to steal personal information or to harvest the data to sell to others for uses not properly disclosed to the user.
Federal Filing Deadline
Taxpayers have until July 15th to file and pay their federal income tax returns without penalty due to COVID-19. See this article for details.
- An April 9th notice expands this relief to additional returns, tax payments and other actions. As a result, the extensions generally now apply to all taxpayers that have a filing or payment deadline falling on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020. Individuals, trusts, estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers qualify for the extra time. This means that anyone, including Americans who live and work abroad, can now wait until July 15 to file their 2019 federal income tax return and pay any tax due.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the deadline for older adults and Pennsylvania residents with disabilities to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2019 has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31, 2020. Read more here.
Many older homeowners, renters and people with disabilities will receive early rebates through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Rebates are typically issued starting July 1, but the governor and treasurer are issuing the rebates starting May 20th, 2020 to approved applicants.
Charity Renewal Deadline Extension
As you know, the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act, 10 P. S. § 162.1 et seq., requires organizations soliciting charitable contributions from Pennsylvania residents to register with the Department’s Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations (Bureau), unless excluded or exempted from the Act. Charitable organizations must annually renew such registration. The renewal date is based on the charity’s fiscal year end, with the renewal of each registration required to be postmarked by the 15th day of the 11th month following the close of the organization’s fiscal year. 10 P.S. § 162.5(a) and (k). No charitable organization may solicit contributions or have contributions solicited in its behalf before approval of its registration statement by the Bureau. 10 P.S. § 162.5(a).
Due to the COVID-19 emergency, the following charitable organization registration renewal deadlines, which fall during April, May and June 2020, are extended for three months, with the renewal of each registration required to be postmarked by the 15th day of the 14th month following the close of the organization’s fiscal year. The corresponding registrations of these charitable organizations will be extended by three months as well. The charitable organization registrations that are set to expire during that time frame are set forth below.
|Charitable organization fiscal year end||Charitable organization renewal date and registration expiration||Requesting extension of deadline and registration to|
|May 31, 2019||April 15, 2020||July 15, 2020|
|June 30, 2019||May 15, 2020||August 17, 2020*|
|July 31, 2019||June 15, 2020||September 15, 2020|
* If the renewal due date falls on a weekend or holiday, the actual date will be the next business day. August 15, 2020, is a Saturday. Therefore, the renewal date is extended to Monday, August 17, 2020.
The Bureau encourages affected charitable organizations to renew on time if possible. However, this waiver will ensure that if a charitable organization which is responding to or affected by the COVID-19 emergency misses the deadline, its registration will remain active and it may continue to solicit charitable contributions from Pennsylvania residents for its charitable purpose.
On March 20, 2020, the Bureau went live with an online system for filing initial and renewal registrations for charitable organizations (BCO-10 form). Here is the direct link: https://www.charities.pa.gov. The Bureau sent letters on March 17 to all registered charitable organizations announcing this new capability.
Small Business Assistance for Nonprofits
SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Advance Program Reopened
- The SBA is offering low interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses and non-profit organizations that are suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19 in all U.S. states.
- These loans may be used to pay debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact, and that are not already covered by a Paycheck Protection Program loan. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
- To keep payments affordable for small businesses, SBA offers loans with long repayment terms, up to a maximum of 30 years. Plus, the first payment is deferred for one year.
- In addition, small businesses and non-profits may request, as part of their loan application, an EIDL Advance of up to $10,000. The EIDL Advance is designed to provide emergency economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This advance will not have to be repaid, and small businesses may receive an advance even if they are not approved for a loan.
- The SBA is also assisting small businesses and non-profits with access to the federal forgivable loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program, which is currently accepting applications until June 30, 2020.
For additional information, please visit the SBA disaster assistance website at SBA.gov/Disaster, or apply at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance.
DCED Small Business Grants
- Grants are available for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. They are allocated from federal CARES Act funds, distributed by DCED, and administered by Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs.)
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance
The Small Business Administration is currently unable to accept any other applications because available appropriated funding has been marked for use
- In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners and nonprofits in are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to nonprofits that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.
- This program is for any small business with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organization or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by COVID-19.
- The Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance funds will be made available within days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.
- Visit SBA.gov for more information.
Paycheck Protection Program
The Small Business Administration is currently accepting applications again as of 4/27/20 at 10:30am
- The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses/nonprofits to keep their workers on the payroll. To learn more, see this FAQ.
- SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Learn more here.
- You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.
- PANO Webinar Presentation
- Information about loans available here or through this checklist.
- Visit SBA.gov for more information.
PA CARE Package
- Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced on March 30th the launch of ‘PA CARE Package’, the state’s consumer relief initiative.
- PA Care Package looks to focus on partnering with banks throughout the commonwealth and ensure consumers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for economic relief.
HR 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act
On March 19, the President signed into law, H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The bill includes a complex set of temporary paid leave mandates and employer reimbursement provisions, as well as funding for free coronavirus testing, food nutrition security, and Unemployment extension.
Finding Employment & Posting Jobs
Online Job Boards
- In an effort to connect businesses seeking employees with people seeking immediate work, the PA Chamber is encouraging hiring businesses across the Commonwealth to share details of their job postings. Upon review, the PA Chamber will promote the hiring announcement on their website, and announce the employment opportunities through email communications and their social media channels.
- NeedAJobNow.USNLx.com isa job site dedicated to providing a centralized location for displaced workers to access employment opportunities from U.S. corporations with immediate hiring needs due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Powered by the National Labor Exchange (NLx), the site houses jobs from vetted employers in all industries and provides an opportunity for Americans to return to work and gain meaningful employment.
- People seeking employment can visit www.PAcareerlink.pa.gov and select the green “PA COVID-19 Jobs – Hiring Immediately” job portal banner to see active job openings. Selecting the “Apply Now” button for a listed position will redirect individuals to the employer’s website or email where they can apply directly with the employer and speed up the hiring process.
- USAJOBS has federal government job listings for positions that help respond to and fight COVID-19 in PA.