COVID-19 Update & Resources
Massachusetts 7th Resources During the COVID-19 Pandemic
To the Massachusetts 7th Community,
Thank you for turning to our office for support and resources. My team and I are working with federal, state, local officials and with community leaders to provide assistance and connect you to information about the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
We have compiled the resources below and will continue to update this page in real time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office with questions (617) 850-0040.
Member of Congress
The Latest Updates (4/20/20)
Nationwide federal social distancing guidelines have been extended to April 30th.
Massachusetts Governor Baker has issued a ‘stay-at-home’ advisory. Starting at noon on Tuesday, March 24th, all non-essential workers are required to stay in their homes and limit all “unnecessary” activities until April 7th at noon. Grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, healthcare facilities, virus testing labs, gas stations, liquor stores, public transit, restaurants that offer takeout and delivery, police departments, and other essential operations will remain open while the advisory is in effect.
Governor Baker announced unemployment extensions and waived the one week waiting period to file for unemployment.
Telehealth and telemedicine will be covered with relaxed regulations.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development will suspend all foreclosures and evictions through the end of April.
The State Department has advised that all Americans traveling abroad immediately return to the U.S. in anticipation of further travel restrictions or make plans to shelter in place for the duration in the current country they are visiting.
Beginning Monday, March 23rd, all early education centers and child care providers will close. Massachusetts is working to set up emergency child care for the children of first responders, medical staff, and other critical personnel.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement will halt deportation efforts amid the pandemic, except for those “deemed a safety risk or under mandatory deportation order due to criminal history”. For questions about immigration casework, call our office directly.
Grocery stores in Massachusetts will be expanding hours for senior citizens (people over 60 years old) and other customers who may have a weakened immune system or are otherwise immunocompromised: Stop & Shop will reserve 6am-7:30am daily. Shaw’s and Star Market will reserve 7:00am to 9:00am every Tuesday and Thursday. Roche Bros. will reserve 7:00-8:00am. Market Basket will open 5:30am-7:00am.
Statewide school closures are in effect until May 4th. Check your local public school website for updates, as some districts have longer closure periods.
All non-essential businesses are closed until further notice. Grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, healthcare facilities, virus testing labs, gas stations, liquor stores, public transit, restaurants that offer takeout and delivery, police departments, and other essential operations will remain open until the shelter-in-place advisory is no longer in effect.
TESTING, TREATMENT, AND MORE HEALTH INFORMATION
- For information about COVID-19, symptoms, and healthcare referrals: dial 2-1-1. This hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are free and confidential. Interpreter services are available in multiple languages.
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health 24-hour Emergency Hotline: 617-983-6800
- Get help with health insurance questions and complaints by contacting Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s Health Care Division at 1-888-830-6277.
- The City of Boston’s Tracker of COVID-19 Cases can be found at this website.
- Foodsource Hotline: To find food resources in your community, call the FoodSource Hotline AT 1-800-645-8333 (TTY: 1-800-377-1292). Open Monday-Friday 8:00am-7:00pm and Saturdays 10:00am-2:00pm.
- Food Pantries:
- Greater Boston Food Bank Food Assistance Program locator: GBFB.org/need-food
- Catholic Charities Yawkey Center, 185 Columbia Road, Dorchester: 617-506-6600 Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
- Catholic Charities at Somerville 270 Washington Street, Somerville : 617-625-1920 Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
- Find your local YMCA branch for food resources: https://ymcaboston.org/branches
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): SNAP, more commonly known as food stamps, ensures that individuals receive the food they need, especially if they are newly unemployed. To apply for SNAP benefits, visit the Massachusetts SNAP Office website or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services regional office near you.
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC): WIC provides access to nutritious foods for low-income pregnant women or mothers. To see if you are eligible for benefits, visit the WIC PReScreening Tool and visit the WIC website to apply or contact the Massachusetts WIC Office for additional support.
- For Students:
- Find Pick Up Times and Locations for Free Meals Through Your Public School System:
- Boston Public Schools: https://www.bostonpublicschools.org/Page/8098
- Cambridge Public Schools: https://www.cpsd.us/cms/One.aspx?portalId=3042869&pageId=69483708
- Randolph Public Schools:https://www.randolph.k12.ma.us/Page/2375
- Milton Public Schools: https://www.miltonps.org/
- Everett Public Schools: https://www.everettsd.org/Page/31175
- Chelsea Public Schools: https://www.chelseaschools.com/cms/lib/MA50000536/Centricity/domain/1339/central%20office/Emergencyfoodprogramflyer.pdf
- Somerville Public Schools: https://somerville.k12.ma.us/district-departments/food-nutrition-services
Boston Public Schools system is seeking volunteers for food distribution sites that serve people under 18 years old. Learn more about volunteering: https://www.bostoncares.org/bostoncovid19volunteer
Federal student loan payments have been suspended for 6 months. For up to date guidance on student loans and financial aid during the pandemic, visit https://www.studentaidpandemic.org/
- The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care has posted a listing of drop-in child care programs open to provide emergency, back-up, drop-in child care for vulnerable families and members of essential workforces who have no other option. https://eeclead.force.com/apex/EEC_ChildCareEmergencyProcedure
To support virtual learning, Boston Public Schools system is issuing free chrome books and support with internet access. Apply here: https://www.bostonpublicschools.org/Page/8081
UNEMPLOYMENT, HOUSING & UTILITIES
- If you have become unemployed through no fault of your own, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance. The one week waiting period to file for unemployment benefits has been waived. Visit www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-unemployment-benefits to learn more about eligibility and how to apply.
- Información de desempleo de Massachusetts sobre el virus COVID-19 en español: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/informacion-de-desempleo-de-massachusetts-sobre-el-virus-covid-19
As of April 20th, Massachusetts is processing applications for additional workers made eligible by recent legislation.
If you are newly eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, you can apply at www.mass.gov/pua. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a program open to the following individuals:
Self-employed individuals, including gig workers, freelancers, and independent contractors
Those seeking part-time employment
Claimants that have an insufficient work history to qualify for benefits
And claimants that have been laid off from churches and religious institutions and are not eligible for benefits under state law
Some local authorities have updated guidance that support residents in paying their bills during the pandemic:
- The US Department of Housing and Urban Development will suspend all foreclosures and evictions through the end of April.
- The Boston Housing Authority has made changes to evictions and inspections policy.
- The Massachusetts Division of Banks has issued new guidance to Massachusetts financial institutions and lenders, outlining the steps the state expects them to take in order to provide relief to borrowers. Those steps include postponing foreclosures for 60 days and refraining from reporting late payments to credit rating agencies for at least 60 days.
- The MA Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has suspended the disconnection of utility services for nonpayment during this state of emergency.
- A new Boston Rental Relief Fund will provide a $3 million fund to assist Bostonians who are at risk of losing their rental housing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will help income-eligible tenants in the City of Boston achieve housing stability by providing direct financial relief to assist with rental payments. To learn more about eligibility and apply, visit https://www.boston.gov/departments/neighborhood-development/office-housing-stability/rental-relief-fund
- National Rental Assistance Program Resources Guide: https://www.rentassistance.us/
- Eviction Prevention Hotline: 857-415-2900
- Housing Court Information: Greater Boston Legal Services, provides free civil (non-criminal) legal assistance to low income individuals and families in and around Boston https://www.gbls.org/covid-19-information
- Defer Mortgage Payment Contact: Boston Home Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-635-4663 and press 3 for help Making Home Affordable or call 888-995-4673 to find a housing counselor
- The Massachusetts Division of Rental Assistance has issued guidance to administering agencies on rent recertification, a right for any tenant using the following rental vouchers: MRVP, AHVP, and federal vouchers within DHCD’s portfolio. If you have experienced a loss of income, and utilize one of these vouchers, you can apply at any time to have your rent contribution re-calculated by your administering agency.
- The COVID-19 Rental Assistance for Families in Transition, or RAFT will assist households of all sizes with financial assistance up to $4,000 per household to help preserve current housing or move to new housing. Explore the following:
The United Way has launched a family support fund to aid hourly and low-wage workers who may need financial help with rent, food, or childcare. For more information, visit https://unitedwaymassbay.org/get-involved/covid-19-family-fund/
- For additional support with Rent and Utilities, see pages 27-28 of District Attorney Rachel Rollins’ resources packet.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has released guidance and loan resources for small businesses impacted by the pandemic. Expanded programs include:
Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance (up to $10,000 for qualifying businesses.
SBA Debt Relief (relief of principal and interest for qualifying businesses)
SBA Express Bridge Loans (up to $25,000 for qualifying businesses)
For more information about SBA resources and to read the full guidance, visit https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
To find an SBA lender, visit the SBA Lender Locator at https://www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection/find
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has activated their Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, which provides assistance to eligible businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. Find out if your business or nonprofit is eligible by filling out the SBA form: https://www.mass.gov/doc/sba-eidl-worksheet-and-instructions/download
The Boston Foundation has created a response fund to provide grants to organizations helping people in need now: https://www.tbf.org/what-we-do/special-funds/covid-19-response-fund
Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation has created a COVID-19 Loan Fund of $10 million to provide financial relief up to $75,000 to Massachusetts businesses. To apply, visit https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/what-we-offer/emergency-loan-funds/covid-19-loan-fund
Employers who are impacted by COVID-19 can ask for a 60 day grace period for their quarterly reports and pay contributions. For more information, visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-guidance-and-directives#businesses-&-employers-
The City of Boston’s Chief Economic Development Office is offering support to Small Businesses. Fill out the form to learn more https://forms.gle/h8vkNA1LjH6dt6JeA
- Public transportation will run on a reduced service to support efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Check the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for updates: https://www.mbta.com/covid19
- The Registry of Motor Vehicles will extend the renewal timeline for certain credentials to reduce physical visits to the RMV. See the full order here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/march-15-2020-rmv-license-extensions
- For traffic alerts, visit https://mass511.com
- For Massport and Logan Airport alerts, visit http://www.massport.com/massport/
LEGAL SUPPORT WITH TRAVEL REFUND AND CONSUMER PROTECTION
- Be on alert for scams, and report scammers. Don’t trust anyone offering vaccinations or other treatment. There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. Look out for unauthorized or fraudulent solicitations. Speak with a Consumer Specialist in the Attorney General’s Office at (617) 727-8400 at 10:00am-4:00pm, Monday through Friday.
- Consider seeking a travel refund for cancelled travel. File a complaint with the Attorney General’s office if you are having trouble getting your money back: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/file-a-consumer-complaint
Beware of scams related to COVID-19:
- Scammers are taking advantage of COVID-19 to con people into giving up their money via Social Security, bank account, credit card, Medicare ID, or drivers license numbers. To report scammers, speak with a Consumer Specialist in the Attorney General’s Office at (617) 727-8400 at 10:00am-4:00pm, Monday through Friday.
- Beware of the following:
- Scams offering COVID-19 vaccine, cure, air filters, testing
- Fake COVID-19-related charity scams
- “Person in need” scams where scammers pose as a grandchild, relative, or friend who claims to be ill
- Scams targeting your Social Security benefits
- For more information on scams, visit https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/beware-coronavirus-related-scams/
UPDATES FROM MY OFFICE
I am committed to regularly updating you with information on the coronavirus. If you would like to join my email list for regular updates, you can sign up here.
Updates and Outreach from my office:
- April 8, 2020 - COVID-19 TeleTown Hall with Experts from Greater Boston Legal Services and the Boston Public Health Commission
- March 25, 2020 - COVID-19 Resources & Updates
- March 17, 2020 - An Update on the Coronavirus
- March 4, 2020 - A Message on the Coronavirus
OTHER REPUTABLE SOURCES
For more information on COVID-19, visit the websites of these government agencies: