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.


Statewide Mitigation Guidance

  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.

Unemployment Compensation

  • 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
    • There will be an additional $600 per week from the federal government on top of whatever base amount a worker receives from the state. That boosted payment will last for four months.
    • A new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program will work through the end of this year to help people who lose work as a direct result of the public health emergency.
    • 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.

Taxes

  • 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.
  • The PA state filing deadline has also been extended to July 15th, see the press release for details.

Small Business Assistance for Nonprofits

  • The Cares Act introduced assistance through Small Business Administration for Nonprofits. Full Guidance can be found here.
    • It creates an emergency loan program providing loans of up to $10 million for eligible nonprofits and small businesses, permitting them to cover costs of payroll, operations, and debt service, and provides that the loans will be forgiven in whole or in part under certain circumstances. Information about loans available here or through this checklist.
    • Creates emergency grants for eligible nonprofits and other applicants with 500 or fewer employees enabling them to receive checks for $10,000 within three days
    • Creates a refundable payroll tax credit of up to $5,000 for each employee on the payroll when certain conditions are met.
    • Visit SBA.gov to apply and for more information.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The program hopes to expand on the recently-passed CARES Act as banks and financial institutions work with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Consumer Protection and offer additional important protections for consumers.

Housing Information

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The PA Supreme Court has placed a temporary moratorium on ALL evictions and foreclosures until April 30th.
  • See the PA Housing Alliance for up-to-date information

HR 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Stimulus Checks

  • Most individuals earning less than $75,000 can expect a one-time cash payment of $1,200.
  • Married couples would each receive a check ($2,400 total) if their income is less than $150,000 combined
  • Families will get $500 per child
  • Distribution of economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people.
  • Social Security recipients will not have to file a tax return to receive a stimulus check, prior to originally reported information. Some seniors may still need to do so if they do not receive social security benefits.

Check the IRS page for the most up-to-date information.

The Federal Trade Commission has already issued guidance to spot potential scams/fraud related to this:

  • The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. No fees. No charges. No nothing.
  • The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • The United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the formation of a joint federal and state Western Pennsylvania COVID-19 Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute coronavirus-related fraud.
  • If you suspect fraud please report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud at: 1-866-720-5721 or email disaster@leo.gov.