Financial Assistance for Food, Housing, and Bills
Get temporary COVID-19 help from government programs to pay rent, mortgages, funeral expenses, and student loans. Food stamps and federal meal programs also changed their rules to provide extra help during the coronavirus pandemic.
By claiming the Child Tax Credit (CTC), you can reduce the amount of money you owe on your federal taxes. The amount of credit you receive is based on your income and number of qualifying children you are claiming.
Even if you don’t pay any taxes, you may qualify for a refund of the CTC.
The CTC was expanded under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 for tax year 2021 only. If you are eligible, you will begin receiving advance Child Tax Credit payments on July 15. The payments will continue monthly through December 2021. Under ARPA, families are eligible to receive:
- Up to $3,000 per qualifying child between ages 6 and 17
- Up to $3,600 per qualifying child under age 6
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began sending out letters in early June to more than 36 million families who may be eligible for the monthly payments. Most families do not need to do anything to get their payments, as long as they’ve filed their 2020 or 2019 tax return. Learn more about the letter and how it can help you determine your eligibility.
Update Your Information for the Advance Child Tax Credit
If you don’t file taxes due to low income, you can sign up for the child tax credit.
Or you can use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to:
- Confirm if you’re enrolled to receive payments
- Un-enroll from the Child Tax Credit program to stop payments
- Provide or update your bank account information
To manage payments with the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, you may use an existing IRS username. Or, if you’re a new user, create an account with ID.me.
Learn all about the child tax credit at childtaxcredit.gov.
Food Stamps and Meal Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be easier for you and your family to get food stamps and take part in meal programs. Contact your state's social services agency to see if you're eligible.
During the pandemic:
People can enroll in food programs remotely rather than in person. This applies to programs for pregnant women, families, seniors, and people with disabilities.
Read about these and other government meal program changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 Rent Assistance and Eviction Moratorium
If you're out of work or lost income because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may qualify for rental assistance through your state HUD program. And a federal eviction moratorium from the CDC, extended through July 31, 2021, may help you stay in your home if you can't pay your rent.
Get Rental Assistance During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is helping renters during the pandemic by providing rental assistance through state HUD offices. To find out if you qualify:
Learn About the Moratorium on Evictions During the COVID-19 Pandemic
If you can't pay your rent because of job loss or financial problems related to the pandemic, the ban on evictions from rental housing may help. The ban was ordered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It began on September 4, 2020, and has been extended through July 31, 2021.
If you’re facing eviction, use this CDC declaration form to explain your situation to your landlord.
The CDC form lists several conditions that you must agree are true:
You've tried to get government rent or housing assistance
Expect to earn no more than $99,000 in the calendar year 2020-2021 ($198,000 if you’re a couple filing jointly)
Didn't have to report any income to the Internal Revenue Service in 2019, or
Received a COVID-19 stimulus payment
You can't pay your full rent due to significantly reduced income or large medical bills
You're paying as much toward your rent as you can
If evicted you'd become homeless or have to move in with other people in close quarters
You understand that at the end of the ban, the landlord can evict you if you don't pay all rent owed
Keep in mind, this is not rental forgiveness. You will still owe rent to your landlord. And you can be evicted during this time for reasons other than not paying your rent.
If you’ve been affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic and you own a single-family home with a federally backed or FHA-insured mortgage, you can request mortgage forbearance, a pause in making mortgage payments.
Learn the steps to take and questions to ask if you need mortgage forbearance from your lender.
Deadlines for Federally Backed Mortgage Forbearance and Foreclosures
For loans backed by HUD/FHA, USDA, or VA, you can request an initial forbearance through September 30, 2021.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not currently have a deadline for requesting an initial forbearance.
Lenders cannot foreclose on loans backed by HUD/FHA, USDA, VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac until after July 31, 2021.
What Your Loan Servicer Must Do If You Request Forbearance
If you're having trouble making payments on your federally backed mortgage because of the COVID-19 pandemic, contact your loan servicer before September 30, 2021. Your loan servicer must:
Defer or reduce your payments for 180 days if you contact them to make arrangements
Give you another 180 days of mortgage relief at your request
Offer options for how you can make up the deferred or reduced payments. They will discuss these options with you at the end of your forbearance period.
Find Your Loan Servicer
If you don't know whether your mortgage is federally backed, see a list of federal agencies that provide or insure mortgages. You can also check the Fannie Mae loan lookup and the Freddie Mac loan lookup to see if either one owns or backs your mortgage. Together, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own nearly half of all mortgages in the U.S.
Homeless Services and Resources
If you’re facing homelessness, these tips can help you get ready for and work through the situation.
Prepare Yourself and Your Family
Make sure your state ID or driver’s license is current and available. Shelters and assistance programs may have strict ID requirements.
If possible, store your belongings. Shelters have limits on how much you may bring.
Arrange for your mail to be delivered somewhere or talk to your local post office. Many have special services for people who are homeless. You may be able to get a free P.O. box or receive general delivery service.
Pack a bag for yourself and each member of your family.
Keep important documents and needed medications with you.
Dial 211. In most areas of the U.S., this will connect you with local social services and referrals for emergency housing.
Check for shelter and housing through your state. You can also check your local government or state's human or social services programs for housing assistance. Or, use the map on the Homeless Shelter Directory to find a shelter near you. The types of facilities vary. Research the best options for:
Cost - Most shelters are free, but some may charge a small fee. Most facilities that provide residential drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs charge a fee. Many, however, are low-cost, accept Medicaid, or operate on a sliding scale based on your income.
Length of stay - This can vary from a couple of days to weeks or months.
Types of services - Some facilities just provide safe shelter for the night, while others are transitional. They provide both housing and support services. They may help you with substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence, or job training.
Apply for more permanent public or subsidized housing. Typically, there are long waiting lists for public and subsidized housing. Apply as soon as possible.
Homeless Resources for Special Groups
These resources are geared toward specific audiences:
Call the National Runaway Safeline at 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929).
Housing programs and street outreach - Find stable, safe housing. You can also get education help, survival aid, counseling, crisis intervention, and follow-up support.
People with Mental Illness
Other Types of Help if You’re Homeless
Visit Benefits.gov to find out if you’re eligible and how to apply for other types of help. This may include financial assistance, transportation, food, counseling, and more.
If you don’t have medical insurance, you can use HRSA health centers. They give checkups, treatment when you’re sick, pregnancy care, and immunizations for your children.
COVID-19 Help Paying Broadband Internet Bills
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission's Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides a temporary discount on monthly broadband internet bills for qualifying households with a low income.
For eligible households, the Emergency Broadband Benefit provides:
- A discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service
- A discount of up to $75 per month for broadband for households on qualifying tribal lands
- A one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers
Find out if you qualify and how to apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit.
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance
To help ease the financial burden during the coronavirus pandemic, FEMA is providing up to $9,000 reimbursement for funeral expenses related to COVID-19. The death must have occurred after January 20, 2020.
COVID-19 Student Loan Forbearance
If you're repaying a U.S. Department of Education-backed student loan, you're receiving forbearance. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, your principal and interest payments have been automatically suspended through at least September 30, 2021.
Find COVID-19 Vaccine Locations With Vaccines.gov
Vaccines.gov makes it easy to find COVID-19 vaccination sites. Select which vaccine you want and search by zip code. Depending on your location, you may be able to choose from pharmacies, health department clinics, and other health care providers.
Do you have a question?
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June 29, 2021