Information & Resources to Help Communities #LiveUnited During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Finding Help: Staying connected to coronavirus-related information and help that is available can be challenging – information is changing rapidly, families and businesses are struggling, and some of the traditional services aren’t operating. For the most up-to-date information on the State of Connecticut’s response, visit www.ct.gov/coronavirus. If you need help navigating available assistance, connecting with community-based programs, and just generally finding help, browse the topics below. If you’ve created and are signed into your My 211 Account, you can add helpful resources you find to a list, and then save it in your account to share via email, text, or link – or just refer back to when needed.

Giving Help: If you’ve landed on this page and you’re in a position to help others, that assistance is needed more than ever right now. Please visit our Volunteers & Donations topic for more information on how to volunteer or contribute.

Let us Help: If researching and navigating all of this online is too much, pick up the phone and talk to one of our 2-1-1 contact specialists. Dial 2-1-1 (or 1-800-203-1224) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and press option ‘5’ to talk to someone who can help. We’re in this together. #LiveUnited

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Financial Assistance – For Businesses

Federal Disaster Assistance Loans: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis. To apply, visit www.sba.gov/disaster or call the SBA at 1-800-659-2955.

CARES Act & Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans: Part of the CARES Act, the PPP can provide direct cash flow, through federally guaranteed loans, to employers who maintain their payroll during the pandemic. If employers maintain their payroll, the loans will be forgiven. The program can be retroactive to February 15, 2020 in order to bring workers back onto payroll who may have already been laid off. Smalls businesses, non-profits, and other veteran and Tribal organizations are eligible. Borrowers may apply for PPP loans as well as other SBA assistance, as long as they do not use the PPP loan for the same purpose as the other SBA loans. Businesses can apply for a PPP loan through any existing SBA lender. For more information about PPP and other SBA assistance, visit https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options. Small businesses can also access a comprehensive guide to the CARES Act here.

The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act – passed in June 2020 – makes several important changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The new law eases some of the program’s restrictions, giving small businesses more time to use their loans and letting borrowers spend more of their loans on non-payroll expenses. Key changes to the PPP include:

  • Extends the period to use PPP funds from 8 weeks to 24 weeks
  • Reduces the minimum payroll spend to 60% (from 75%)
  • Borrowers can now use the 24-week period to fully restore their workforce levels and wages (December 31 instead of June 30)
  • Businesses now have five years to repay the loan, instead of two
  • The new legislation also includes a number of updates and exceptions related to loan forgiveness, the rehiring of employees, and the payment of payroll taxes.

Additional Help: DECD has created a COVID-19 Business Emergency Response Unit dedicated to assisting businesses navigate resources and develop new resources. The Business Emergency Response Unit can be reached at 860-500-2333.

Learn More: For additional assistance available to businesses, including tax information and other measures, visit https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Information-For/Business-Resources.

Financial Assistance – For Individuals & Families

Unemployment Insurance: Individuals unemployed due to COVID-19 are encouraged to apply for unemployment benefits, even if they would not normally be eligible. Eligibility will be determined on a case-by-case basis. To file a claim, visit www.filectui.com, and click the link that says ‘For quicker payment of unemployment benefit, please follow this tutorial.’ That link will provide information on filing a claim in the correct way so that it is processed as quickly as possible. For residents that have already filed a claim, it is very important they check their email (including junk and spam folders) daily for updated messages from CTDOL. Messages may include next steps or a request that claimants log back onto their claim since following these instructions will help speed up processing. For a comprehensive guide to unemployment benefits, visit http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/DOLCOVIDFAQ.PDF. Don’t have access to file a claim online? Can a family member, friend, or neighbor help? If not, the social services department at your city or town may be able to assist. To find the contact information for social services in your town, click here, enter your zip code or town, and press 🔎.

Temporary Family Assistance (TFA): Low-income families residing in Connecticut with children under age 18 may be eligible for Temporary Family Assistance (TFA) through the Department of Social Services (DSS). TFA is a time-limited cash assistance program that provides monthly cash for basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and employment assistance. Unsure if you are eligible for TFA? Complete the 2-1-1 Navigator at http://www.211navigator.com/. The DSS field offices are currently closed to the public, but individuals can apply for TFA online at connect.ct.gov or by calling the DSS Benefits Center at 1-855-6-CONNECT.

Tax Assistance: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has extended the deadline for filing until July 15, 2020. For more information, visit www.irs.gov/coronavirus. Individuals who have not yet filed and may be eligible for a refund, should consider filing now. Filers of all incomes can complete their taxes online for free at www.myfreetaxes.com. Households with earnings less than $56,000 can also look to have their taxes filed for free by a trained volunteer through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Most VITA sites are currently closed, but some are still offering the service ‘virtually.’ For more information, visit https://uwc.211ct.org/taxhelp/.

Property Tax Relief: All Connecticut cities and towns will be participating in either/both a ‘Deferment Program’ or ‘Low Interest Rate Program’ to offer support to eligible taxpayers, businesses, nonprofits, and residents who have been economically affected by COVID-19. Programs should be established by the end of April. Individuals can contact their city or town tax assessor’s office for more details.

Other State and Federal Benefit Programs: Individuals struggling financially are encouraged to check to see if they might be eligible for other state and federal benefits, which can help reduce a household’s monthly expenses. A quick way to get a sense of what benefits an individual may be eligible for is to complete the 2-1-1 Benefits Navigator at www.211navigator.com.

Insurance Grace Period: As of March 24th, the Connecticut Insurance Department (CID) is requesting all insurance companies that offer insurance coverage in Connecticut (health, life, auto, property, etc) to immediately provide customers with a 60-day grace period without interest or penalty to pay their insurance premiums.  The Department is also encouraging all auto insurers to consider lowering auto premiums for drivers. Individuals experiencing financial difficulty should be encouraged to contact their auto insurance company and inquire about a lower rate. Callers with additional questions can call the CID Consumer Helpline at 800-203-3447.

Student Loans: As part of the March 27th CARES Act, federal student loans have been suspended for three months. Federal student loan servicers will suspend payments without any action required from borrowers. More information can be found here.

Having Trouble Paying the Bills? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has helpful tips for households on how they can protect themselves financially from the impact of COVID-19, including suggestions about contacting lenders and service providers proactively. Click here to review the tips.

Legal Assistance: Individuals seeking legal information can visit https://ctlawhelp.org/en/coronavirus. If legal assistance is required, call Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320.

Learn More: 2-1-1 CT’s Topic Page

Housing

Evictions & Rental Assistance: Executive Order 7X prohibits landlords from beginning eviction proceedings prior to August 22nd, unless there is a serious nuisance issue. Additionally, previously issued evictions cannot be executed until August 1st. If an individual is being forced or locked out of their apartment, they may contact the police or their town/city housing code enforcement office for help. For a helpful explanation of the current situation from CTLAWHELP, click here.  Individuals needing assistance can click here to find a program that helps with landlord/tenant issues. Rent Relief (Grace Period): According to Executive Order 7X, residential renters have an automatic 60-day grace period for rent due in April that they are unable to pay. So long as the April rent is paid within 60 days, the landlord may not deliver a notice to quit, impose late fees, or retaliate in any way. Renters who are unable to pay their May rent, must notify the landlord that they have a loss of income due to COVID-19 in order to receive a similar 60-day extension on the May rent. For renters who have paid a security deposit of more than one month’s rent, they may request that the landlord apply all or part of that excess to unpaid April, May or June rent. There is no July rent extension. July rent is due by its regular deadline.  Rental Assistance: Programs that provide direct rental assistance are few (see list here) – individuals and families struggling to pay their rent should be sure to talk to their landlord about the situation. Individuals who live in public or subsidized housing should report a decrease in income immediately and ask to have the rent amount reduced. Households should also avail themselves of all the other benefit programs and basic needs assistance that is available (see the categories on this page for ‘Financial Assistance,’ ‘Food Assistance,’ and ‘Other Basic Needs.’

Foreclosures & Mortgage Assistance: As of 06/09/20, all foreclosure sales previously scheduled prior to August 22, 2020 have been cancelled in order to prevent a potential gathering of individuals at the auction site. See this announcement here:  https://www.jud.ct.gov/HomePDFs/ForeclosureSaleOrder.pdf. Homeowners who have been laid off or have lost income/work hours should contact their mortgage company about getting a forbearance and other mortgage relief. Federally-Backed Mortgages: Homeowners with mortgages through a federally backed lender like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), can request a 180-day forbearance without fees or penalties. Additionally, these homeowners are protected from foreclosure under a 60-day foreclosure and foreclosure-related eviction moratorium. Other Mortgages: There is also relief available to homeowners with mortgages held by non-federally backed servicers. Most Connecticut banks and credit unions have agreed to a statewide mortgage payment relief program, which included a 90 day grace period for mortgage payment, relief from fees and charge, and no new foreclosures for 60 days. Homeowners in need of additional mortgage counseling and assistance can visit 211ct.org (enter the zip code/town and press 🔎) to find a program that can help. For more information on mortgage relief options, visit the CT Department of Banking’s website.

Shelter: Anyone in Connecticut who is in immediate need of shelter should dial 2-1-1 for shelter options. Shelter providers and partners are taking steps to protect the health of residents and staff. A resource guide for shelter providers can be found here.

Section 8 and RAP Vouchers: All proposed terminations and hearings on terminations of Section 8 or RAP certificates were put on hold for at least 60 days as of 3/19/20. Program participants experiencing a decrease in income should have the income change processed immediately and without a letter from the employer.

Legal Assistance: Statewide Legal Services is available at 1-800-453-3320.

Learn More: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Information-For/Homeowners-and-Renters; https://www.ctfairhousing.org/

Healthcare & Insurance

Coverage for COVID-19 Testing & Treatment: For those with symptoms of COVID-19, private insurance carriers and the state’s HUSKY Health Program will not charge out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing. Health insurers have voluntarily waived cost sharing for testing on a temporary basis. Any person enrolled in a fully-insured or self-insured health plan will not pay any out of pocket costs. The state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs, known as HUSKY Health, are covering all costs for testing. In addition, HUSKY Health is now covering COVID-19 testing for uninsured Connecticut residents who are U.S. citizens or have a qualifying immigration status, regardless of income; and covering COVID-19 testing for residents without a qualifying immigration status if they meet HUSKY income requirements and have COVID-19 symptoms. Individuals with no insurance can apply for COVID-19 testing coverage here through Access Health CT. NOTE: Individuals who are asymptomatic (have no symptoms), and plan to get tested for COVID-19, may wish to consult their insurance company first, as they may incur a cost. Immigration Concerns? Undocumented individuals can seek medical care and testing for COVID-19 without fear of public charge – these services will not be considered when making public charge determinations.

Health Insurance – HUSKY : HUSKY is Connecticut’s Medicaid program for low-income children, parents, pregnant women, and single adults. There is also a part of the program that covers children at higher incomes. HUSKY provides access to a comprehensive set of medical services. Unsure if you are eligible for HUSKY? Complete the 2-1-1 Navigator at http://www.211navigator.com/. The DSS field offices are currently closed to the public, but individuals can apply for HUSKY online at connect.ct.gov or by calling the DSS Benefits Center at 1-855-6-CONNECT.

Health Insurance – Access Health CT: Access Health CT is Connecticut’s health insurance marketplace to connect uninsured individuals who are not eligible for HUSKY to other health insurance plans, which may be subsidized based on the household income. Individuals can apply online at www.accesshealthct.com or by dialing 855-805-4325. Did you lose your employer-sponsored health insurance coverage recently? You may qualify for coverage through Access Health CT at any time, if you have a Qualifying Life Event (like losing coverage due to job change/loss) through a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). If you experience a Qualifying Life Event, you must start your application with Access Health CT within 60 days of your Qualifying Life Event. To see if you quality, contact Access Health between 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday or visit https://learn.accesshealthct.com/. Other options are individuals who have recently lost insurance coverage are available on the Office of the Healthcare Advocate’s website at https://portal.ct.gov/OHA/Loss-of-Coverage-Options/Loss-of-Coverage.

Office of the Healthcare Advocate

Provides assistance with selecting health insurance coverage. Agency will answer questions about health insurance issues, including, but not limited to, enrollment/eligibility issues, clarification of plan benefits, plan benefit limitations, and out-of-network services. Help is available for individuals who have lost their insurance coverage. Free, advice in considering your options in Connecticut, the State Office of the Healthcare Advocate has case managers who can provide free help. For more information click on the link https://portal.ct.gov/OHA/Loss-of-Coverage-Options/Loss-of-Coverage.

Don’t Have a Doctor? Individuals without a physician who need to consult with or seek treatment from a healthcare provider can try and make an appointment with an urgent care center or a community clinic. A list of community clinics is available on 211ct.org (enter the zip code/town and press 🔎). There are also several COVID-specific hospital hotlines available that are staffed by clinicians – these are good resources for individuals without a doctor or who cannot reach their doctor. Click here for the list of medical hotlines. And individuals with insurance can also contact their insurance company for assistance finding a provider and to speak with a nurse hotline. CT HUSKY members can call 1-800-859-9889. Contact information for some of the commercial carriers can be found here.

Learn More: 2-1-1’s Coronavirus Healthcare Topic Page

Food & Nutrition

Home Delivered Meals: Individuals who are homebound can click here to see if there is a program in their area that provides home delivered meals. Individuals should review the eligibility criteria listed for each program, as many have specific requirements such as age, disability, or residency. Also, the Elderly Nutrition Program that typically provides meals to individuals age 60 and older in community cafe settings, may also provide home delivered meals.  To locate a community cafe program for older adults and inquire about home delivery, click here, enter your zip code or town, and press 🔎. Individuals who aren’t homebound, but want to promote social distancing, may want to pursue the delivery and/or curbside pick-up options through the major grocery and big box retailers like Stop & Shop, Walmart, Target, and others.

Food Distribution: Individuals struggling to afford groceries can obtain free food items from local food pantries. Soup kitchens, which typically provide meals at no-cost, are mostly providing grab-and-go food options during this time and can also be a good option for those who need grocery items. To find a food pantry or soup kitchen, click here, enter the zip code or town where you are seeking help, and press 🔎. Note: Please call ahead to confirm hours as many programs have modified hours due to COVID-19. Food is also distributed by the state’s two food banks via a mobile truck at various locations across the state:

School Meals: Many school districts are continuing to provide meal service during extended school closures due to COVID-19.  Visit the State Department of Education (SDE) (https://portal.ct.gov/sde) and use the links in the banner to determine which districts are providing food just to students and which are providing emergency meals for the community. For more information and links to view the distribution sites for some of the larger cities and towns, click here.

Benefit Programs: Nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps) and the Women, Infant and Children’s Program (WIC) provide eligible individuals and families with money to purchase food. Unsure if you are eligible for SNAP or WIC? Complete the 2-1-1 Navigator at http://www.211navigator.com/. SNAP applications are processed by the Department of Social Services (DSS). The DSS field offices are currently closed to the public, but individuals can apply for SNAP online at connect.ct.gov and can also receive assistance applying by contacting End Hunger CT! at 866-974-7627. To apply for WIC, click here to find a program in your area and call to see how they are handling applications during the pandemic.

Other Options: Town social service departments are a good option for individuals who can’t locate a program or service to meet their food needs. To find the contact information for social services in your town, click here, enter your zip code or town, and press 🔎.

Learn More: 2-1-1’s Coronavirus Food Access Topic Page

Transportation, Utilities & Other Basic Needs

Transportation for Individuals with Disabilities and Older Adults: Many towns have transportation programs for disabled individuals, as well as older adults, that are available at a low-cost. To find these programs in your area, visit 211ct.org, enter the zip code/town, and press 🔎. Note: These programs may have suspended or changed operations due to coronavirus. Please call to confirm service details.

Medical Transportation: HUSKY A, HUSKY C, and HUSKY D members can contact Veyo at 1-855-478-7350 to arrange transportation. Individuals who do not have HUSKY can visit 211ct.org (enter the zip code/town, and press 🔎) to find other medical transportation programs.

Heating & Utility Assistance: The CT Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) has issued an emergency moratorium on electric, natural gas, and water utility shut-offs in response to the pandemic. Individuals at risk of shut-off should contact their utility company and reference the coronavirus moratorium. Additionally, there have been state emergency orders suspending utility late fees, waiving fees/deposits for utility connection even for those previously disconnected, and requiring payment arrangements for businesses and nonprofits. Payment Assistance: Programs like the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program, Operation Fuel, and private fuel banks can assist eligible households with their heating and utility bills. These programs are not currently doing applications in-person, but are still accepting applications in different ways. Use the following links to find programs for each specific utility need: Electric, Natural Gas, Heating Fuel (oil, propane, kerosene), Water.

Child Care: The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) recommends that families in need of child care options take these steps: 1) Explore options of family members, friends, neighbors for care, and 2) Contact 2-1-1 Child Care at 1-800-505-1000 for information about child care centers that remain open in their area. Child care expense assistance is available through the Care 4 Kids program. Families must be income-eligible in order to receive Care 4 Kids and can complete a brief eligibility screening tool at https://www.ctcare4kids.com/apply/ to see if they might qualify.

Diapers: A list of programs that provides diapers to families in need can be accessed here at 211ct.org (enter the zip code/town, and press 🔎).

Phone & Internet: Programs that offer free or low-cost cell phones and internet service to eligible individuals can be found here. And information on special accommodations that the major cell phone and internet providers are making for their clients can be found at https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Information-For/Internet-Access.

Employment: Although many businesses are temporarily closed to promote social distancing, there are other ‘essential’ industries that are still hiring. To connect with programs that can assist with job finding, view the list on 211ct.org (enter the zip code/town, and press 🔎). Please note that the physical locations of the American Job Centers and many of the other programs are currently closed; however, many services are still being offered via telephone. The cthires.com website is a good resource for searching online for employment opportunities.

Other Important Resources: Individuals who are struggling to find programs to meet their basic needs can also contact their town and local community action agency for assistance. Click here for contacts at the towns and cities, and here for a list of community action agencies – remember to enter the zip code/town, and then press 🔎.

Learn More: The 2-1-1 HealthyLives Navigator is a brief screening tool that assess for several social needs, produces a list of community programs to address those needs, and can be saved to a user’s My 211 Account. The screener is available at https://www.211ct.org/assessments/1.

Emotional & Family Support

SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH): The Disaster Distress Helpline (800-985-5990) provides immediate crisis counseling and help to individuals nationwide who are experiencing psychological distress as a result of a natural or man-made disaster, or incidents of mass violence. The Helpline is available 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. The Helpline connects callers to professionals from the closest crisis counseling center in the nationwide network of centers. The Helpline staff will provide confidential counseling, referrals and other needed support services. Individuals can call or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746. Other Talklines: For a list of other talklines/helplines that are available to individuals needing support, click here.

Mobile Crisis Intervention for Youth (MCI): MCI services for youth delivers a range of crisis response services to children and adults. MCI clinicians have mostly stopped going out and doing mobile visits with youth due to COVID-19. However, they are still available for telephonic intervention and support. To access MCI services for youth, dial 2-1-1 anytime of day to be connected. For a list of the MCI programs that serve both adults and youth, view it here on 211ct.org. 

AARP Community Connections: Feeling socially isolated? Older adults can request a phone call from an AARP volunteer, Monday – Friday, 9AM to 5PM EDT by leaving their information at 1-888-281-0145 or submitting a request online here. Community Connections also has a website for older adults to connect with a mutual aid group in their community. Mutual aid groups are informal groups of volunteers that band together to find effective ways to support those people most in need who live in their local community. Mutual aid can include picking up groceries, providing financial assistance, or lending emotional support to neighbors. Visit https://aarpcommunityconnections.org/ to search for a group in your area.

Stay Connected – Phone or online support: The CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) has a guide of telephonic and online ways for individuals to get support and stay connected. The one-page guide is available here.

Red Cross Virtual Family Assistance Center: The American Red Cross in Connecticut is launching a Virtual Family Assistance Center to support Connecticut families struggling with loss and grief due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. People can visit redcross.org/vFAC to access a support hub with special virtual programs, information, referrals and services to support families in need. The hub will also connect people to other community resources provided by 2-1-1, CT VOAD, and other partners. People without internet access can call 833-492-0094 for help. To help, the Red Cross has set up a virtual team of specially trained mental health, spiritual care and health services volunteers who are connecting with families over the phone to offer condolences, providing support for virtual memorial services for families, and hosting online classes to foster resilience and facilitate coping skills.

Learn More: 2-1-1’s Coronavirus Mental Health Topic Page