Last week, after the enhanced unemployment benefits from the federal government expired, millions of Americans stopped getting that extra $600 weekly benefit. Here are some resources available to New Yorkers.
EXTENDED UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
- New Yorkers can reapply for unemployment insurance after the 26 weeks of their traditional unemployment insurance runs out. In mid-July, the state Department of Labor announced that eligible New Yorkers will be able to apply for another 20 weeks of coverage.
- There are currently two extension programs: the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program (PEUC), which was created by the Federal CARES Act, and the Extended Benefits Program (EB), which goes into effect under state law once the state reaches a certain level of high unemployment. Under federal law, these programs are only available for individuals receiving traditional Unemployment Insurance (UI). Individuals receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits are not eligible for PEUC or EB benefits, but can receive up to 46 weeks of PUA benefits at this time.
- To be eligible for PEUC, you must first exhaust 26 weeks of regular UI benefits and continue to be unemployed.
- PEUC and EB are only for individuals receiving traditional Unemployment Insurance, not PUA. However, under federal law, those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) are now eligible for up to 46 weeks of benefits.
- Extended Benefits are available starting the week ending July 5, 2020. However you must first exhaust all 26 weeks of traditional UI and 13 weeks of PEUC before you can access EB. To apply click here or call (888) 209-8124
- If your Benefit Year has not expired, continue to certify for benefits as you previously did using one of the following methods. You will automatically begin to claim Extended Benefits Online at www.labor.ny.gov/signin: Log in to the ”My Online Services” page, select “Unemployment Services,” and choose “Claim Weekly Benefits.”
- By telephone: Call the Tel-Service toll-free number: 888-581-5812. Tel-Service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- As we wrote about earlier this week, HRC is offering and extending the COVID Rent Relief Program to provide eligible households with a one-time rental subsidy, paid directly to the household’s landlord. Participants do not need to repay the subsidy. The state Homes and Community Renewal agency, which is overseeing the $100 million program, said it will prioritize applications from eligible households with the "greatest economic and social need” accounting for income, rent burden, percent of income lost and risk of homelessness. Deadline is August 6th. It was extended from July 30th, so it could be extended again.
- Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. Call the COVID Rent Relief Program Call Center at 1-833-499-0318 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Temporary Aid to Needy Families Program offers cash assistance to New York City parents or guardians living and caring for at least one child. Eligibility requirements include homelessness, payments to maintain or restore your utilities, and other impediments that can impact you or your family's health and safety. Eligible applicants for cash assistance can apply here to create an account and begin the process. Click here for more detailed eligibility requirements.
HELP OBTAINING FOOD
- The city Department of Education continues to distribute free meals to anyone who needs one. Grab-and-Go meals are available at specific NYC school sites. No one will be turned away. Anyone who shows up will be able pick up three meals. The hours are 7:30 – 11:30 am for families and children, 11:30 – 1:30 for adults. Find locations here, or text “NYCFOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877.
- A total of 435 grab and go sites across the five boroughs remain open to pick up hot food on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for children and 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for children and adults. The DOE is offering multiple meals per visit and has emphasized that no one will be turned away.
- A full list of sites is available here. A listing of sites that distribute Kosher and Halal meals can be found here.
- Food pantries and soup kitchens are open, though it's recommended to call in advance. A listing of pantries can be found here. In some cases, a valid photo ID is required at some pantries for the first visit.
- The city Human Resources Administration has also offered to help anyone who qualifies for help in obtaining benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Those benefits are widely accepted in places such as Whole Foods. To apply, click here to create an account and begin the process.
- The City is also establishing a home-delivered meals program for people who do not have other means of accessing food. The application for food delivery assistance is here. To deliver the meals, the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission will be hiring licensed TLC drivers. The application to become a driver in the programs is here. For a list of food pantries, visit here.
- While New Yorkers can sign up for Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and Essential Plan any time, the state’s Qualified Health Plans, offering affordable plans through the state Department of Health is available only through August 15th.
- New York City offers free or affordable health insurance plans to New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status.
- Insurance enrollment services are available by visiting the city Health Department site or 311. You can also text CoveredNYC to 877-877 to start the process. Free mental health coverage is also available through the city's ThriveNYC program, by clicking here or calling (800) 543-3638.
If you need help with the cost of medications, you may qualify for financial assistance from NeedyMeds.
If you are an employee who falls ill due to COVID-19, you may qualify for emergency paid sick leave under New York State and New York City law. Currently, independent contractors and freelancers do not have access to this benefit.
New York State has launched a COVID-19 mental health hotline. For free emotional support, consultation and referral to a provider, you can call 1-844-863-9314. NYC Well is also available for individuals looking to receive immediate or ongoing assistance.
AA meetings are continuing online. You can access those meetings here.
Additional information about accessing healthcare, including mental and emotional wellness care, can be found here.
FINANCIAL HELP FOR FREELANCERS, ARTISTS, RESTAURANT & ENTERTAINMENT WORKERS
- The Actors Fund is offering assistance to those in the performing arts and entertainment industry who have been impacted by the pandemic. Union and non-union workers in the industry are eligible to receive one-time financial assistance that's based on need.
The Freelancers Union has launched a new Freelancers Relief Fund that will offer financial assistance of up to $1,000 per freelance household to cover lost income and essential expenses not covered by government relief programs. Applications will open here on April 2nd.
The New York Foundation for the Arts has a list of emergency grant programs for artists available here.
The Public Theater has a list of crowdfunded grants for artists, more information here.
Individuals can request contributions from individuals via Lost My Gig’s website which is helping freelancers and artists recoup the costs of lost work due to COVID-19.
For an extensive list of public and private resources for small businesses, including financial support, legal support, new government rules, and more, click here.
The Freelance Isn’t Free Act requires that payments are made in full and on time. If you have not been paid for projects that you signed a contract for, or if you have ongoing questions about payment for gigs and projects, you can contact the Department of Consumer and Worker Projection. Find out more information here or contact them by emailing email@example.com.
Another organization called Children of Restaurant Employees also offers financial assistance to coronavirus-stricken food and beverage workers and their kids. Medical bills and proof of residence will be required. Those who believe they qualify can go here.
The Southern Smoke Foundation is offering free funding specifically to workers who lost their jobs in the food and beverage industry because of the pandemic. Those who qualify must have worked in that industry a minimum of six months and an average 30 hours per week minimum. Applicants must also show documentation they've held such employment. According to its website, some examples of financial need include "medical bills, a car accident, weather catastrophes, family support assistance, and mental health needs."
- LEE Initiative Restaurant Workers Relief Program
- The James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund
- USBG COVID-19 Relief Grants