Resources to get through the coronavirus economic slowdown
Posted March 13, 2020 3:38 p.m. EDT
Updated May 22, 2020 6:21 p.m. EDT
How long social distancing will be necessary and what it will ultimately cost are among of the many uncertainties of the current situation. What is certain is that we have the opportunity to help our neighbors get through this.
This list of resources for giving and getting help will continue to grow until the crisis has passed.
Residents experiencing hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to contact NC 211, a statewide United Way-funded hotline that serves as an information and referral service system for people in need, providing access to health and human services resources such as food, financial assistance, and more. This service is free, confidential, and available in many languages 24/7, 365 days a year.
Income assistance/unemployment benefits
For those who see hours or jobs cut, the state and federal governments are adjusting rules to allow more people to quickly qualify for unemployment insurance.
Those who have lost jobs or hours due to coronavirus cutbacks should first file for unemployment benefits online des.nc.gov. If you don't have access to a computer or need assistance, you may file over the phone by calling the Customer Call Center at 888-737-0259 or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance line at 866-847-7209. However, due to the high volume of calls related to COVID-19, wait times can be extensive.
North Carolinians who qualify are eligible for up to $350 per week from the state for up to 12 weeks and a coronavirus supplement of up to $600 per week through July 25.
Those not eligible for regular unemployment – the self-employed or independent contractors – can get the same level of benefits from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA. The application process is the same and begins at des.nc.gov.
A sudden crisis like that posed by coronavirus cancelations and closures can prompt families who never needed aid to seek it out. The online Food Bank Finder allows a search by address for shelters, pantries and other services.
The Tri-Area Ministry Food Pantry, a nonprofit, non-denominational, 100% volunteer-run organization delivers food monthly to eligible clients in the towns of Wake Forest, Rolesville and Youngsville, as well as in the surrounding areas of Wake County. The organization's food pantry is open for distribution on Mondays and Wednesdays and the third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
The North Raleigh Ministries Crisis and Development Center offers a food pantry where people in need can 'shop' for groceries at no cost to them.
The organization also compiles a list of church-based food pantries across Wake County.
Help for homeowners
The CARES Act prohibits lenders and servicers from starting or finalizing foreclosure for a period of time.
Homeowners experiencing hardship because of the pandemic have a right to request a forbearance (a pause in payments) for up to 180 days and a further extension for another 180 days.
Advocates recommend reaching out to creditors is you can't pay your bills. Forbearance is available for utilities and mortgages, even for credit cards. Contact your bank or each payee to negotiate terms. Most are being flexible during this time and may allow for skipped or reduced payments.
Help for business owners
The federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loans to small businesses to cover up to eight weeks of wages and benefits to prevent layoffs. Qualifying businesses will not need to repay the funds.
Stock the pantry
Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina are asking for donations of dry goods and shelf-stable items that can be provided to people to stock their pantries – foods that send them up for an extended period of time.
Support local restaurants, small businesses
Many businesses, especially small retail boutiques, tourism and travel and local restaurants will struggle if forced to closed for an indeterminate amount of time. Those employees are our neighbors.
Restaurants and bars are offering curbside pickup, take-out or delivery service, while small businesses are turning to online sales to maintain a connection with customers.
Donate to your favorite non-profit
Many non-profits are struggling with funding during this time due to cancellations of annual fundraisers. Many non-profits offer walks, dinners, gatherings and galas to raise money each year. Some non-profits have even put money into these events already, only to cancel or suspend them. This means that during a time when many non-profit services will be more overloaded that ever, they have less money to put towards providing these services.
Consider making a donation to a non-profit you support. They need resources now more than ever. If you want to specifically help with coronavirus, look into local organizations that offer food assistance, medical assistance or services that help seniors.
Support artists and the arts
With performance venues closed and gatherings banned, artists and arts organizations are struggling. Arts North Carolina is compiling ways to give to support creative individuals who have been financially impacted by gig cancellations due to the outbreak of COVID-19.