Unemployment claims across the U.S. reached a record high of 3.3 million people filing last week after COVID-19 shuttered large portions of the economy, prompting state and federal governments to ramp up relief efforts.
Affected residents and businesses now have several ways to apply for aid — here’s a look at some of the options.
Congress passed and President Donald Trump last Friday signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package.
Rep. John Rose’s office distributed an overview of the fund distribution, which would see citizens receive one-time tax rebate checks of up to $1,200 per individual, $2,400 per couple and $500 per child based on their tax returns, with reductions for higher income earners.
Those reductions begin at $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for married couples, and assistance is phased out completely for individuals making more than $99,000 and couples making more than $198,000.
The legislation would also expand unemployment insurance to cover gig workers, self-employed people and nonprofit workers, and establishes a U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loan program that can forgive up to eight weeks payment on expenses like rent and utilities at 100 percent.
Other provisions in the stimulus package will see loans for job creators worth a combined $529 billion, an increased Medicare reimbursement rate and direct funding for cities, hospitals and other local organizations to help fight the pandemic.
Tennessee Department of Human Services
TDHS is providing up to $1,000 a month for two months in emergency assistance to families impacted by COVID-19.
Funding is available for those who were employed as of March 11 and either lost their job or at least 50 percent of their earned income. Applications are available at https://tdhs.service-now.com/relief?id=relief_registration and will be approved or denied within five days.
“We know the next few months are going to be a challenge for families across our state who unexpectedly lost a job through no fault of their own,” TDHS Commissioner Danielle Barnes said in a news release. “This emergency cash assistance will provide families with the temporary resources they need to support themselves during what we hope will be a short time away from their jobs.”
The monthly amount is based on the number of people per household, and approval is subject to income limits and other restrictions. Families must include a child under the age of 18 or a pregnant woman, have a valid Social Security Number and must not have resources exceeding $2,000.
“Even with a household of one or two people, you either have to have a child under 18 or a mother that’s pregnant,” TDHS Press Secretary Sky Arnold said. “That means families considered a household of one would have to be a pregnant woman, and single people or couples without children or a pregnancy won’t qualify.”
Money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is covering any aid delivered to families through TDHS.
Am I eligible for TDHS assistance? How much will I receive?
- Household of 1:$500 a month, must not exceed a gross monthly income of $2,696
- Household of 2:$500 a month, must not exceed a gross monthly income of $3,526
- Household of 3:$750 a month, must not exceed a gross monthly income of $4,356
- Household of 4:$750 a month, must not exceed a gross monthly income of $5,185
- Household of 5 or more:$1,000 a month, must not exceed a gross monthly income of $6,015
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program
USDA Rural Development has waived and relaxed portions of its single-family loan application process, which typically assists lower-income families in rural parts of the county.
“Applicable loan payment assistance will vary customer to customer,” the USDA said in a statement to the Lebanon Democrat through its press office. “USDA cannot speculate what the average customer’s payment assistance will be. USDA encourages all our single-family housing customers who have been impacted by COVID-19 to reach out to USDA’s Customer Service Center at 800-414-1226 … or https://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/loanservicing.”
As of March 19, borrowers with both of USDA’s single-family housing loan programs — Direct Loan and Guaranteed Loan — are also subject to a 60-day moratorium on foreclosure and evictions. There are additional provisions in place to safeguard borrowers depending on which program they fall under.
Direct Loan borrowers experiencing an income reduction more than 10 percent can request a payment assistance package, and those with medical bills not covered by insurance or job loss from COVID-19 can receive a temporary moratorium on house payments. Expenses will still need to be paid later.
Guaranteed Loan borrowers who are in default or expecting to be can have payments reduced or suspended for up to 12 months, provided they have a documented hardship. Once the hardship is resolved, lenders can choose whether to waive repayments based on the borrower’s circumstances.
The agency has also extended tenant certifications for multi-family homes to June 30 with no late fees or overages.
USDA’s press office confirmed that Tennessee’s application deadline for the Rural Business Development Grant program closed Feb. 28, though current borrowers may be able to defer payments up to 120 days by submitting a written notification by July 31.
U.S. Small Business Administration
Gov. Bill Lee announced last week that the SBA granted Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance to Tennessee, allowing small businesses and nonprofits to claim up to $2 million per applicant.
Interest rates for the loans are 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofits, and the funding can be used to cover any bills rendered unpayable due to COVID-19. Terms can extend up to 30 years on a case-by-case basis.
Local businesses can apply online at sba.gov/disaster and can speak with a representative by calling SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or emailing [email protected]
“We just want to help as many small businesses in Tennessee and Wilson County as we can that have been affected,” Jay MacKenna, a public affairs specialist for SBA’s regional office, said. “We want to provide them with working capital for the needs that they have and encourage anyone who may have been affected by COVID-19 to apply.”
Those loans could be available to an estimated 151,500 businesses across the state and impact over one million employees, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.