Assistance and Resources
The 2020 Census is still moving forward during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the first time, you can take the Census online! Complete the Census online or by mail today to avoid the need for a Census worker to come to your home. Census results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year, and it's up to all of us to ensure that Minnesota gets our fair share.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has warned Minnesotans about a reported spike in price gouging, scams, and phishing attacks related to COVID-19. Use the links below to learn how to spot, avoid, and report these attacks:
Direct Payments to American Families
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020 and will deliver relief in the form of direct payments to working American families.
- Individuals making up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married workers) will receive payments of $1,200 with an additional $500 payment per minor child.
- These payments will be issued by the IRS via direct deposit and will be based on 2019 or 2018 tax return or 2019 Social Security statement. The Treasury Secretary expects that direct deposits will begin arriving in three weeks with no action required for most people.
- Click here to learn if you are eligible and read the answers to frequently asked questions about these direct payments
Viruses don't descriminate, and neither should we. Amid rising reports of discrimination from the Asian American community, Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan launched a Discrimination Helpline to reinforce the state’s efforts to protect the civil rights of Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The toll-free helpline, which is at 1-833-454-0148, will allow those who experience or witness bias and discrimination to report incidents to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. The helpline is staffed Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM.
Avoiding public spaces and working remotely can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but for many survivors of domestic violence, it may actually cause danger. If you need immediate suport, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is here for you 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). If you’re unable to speak safely, you can visit thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.
- Click here read the National Domestic Violence Hotline's guidance for staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic
Education, Schools, and Childcare
Places or worship play a critical role in times of crisis. Community- and faith-based organizations, working together with schools, businesses, healthcare systems, and state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments, can help slow the spread of diseases, especially among high risk populations.
- Click here to read guidance from the CDC for faith-based community organizations during the COVID-19 crisis
Food and Nutrition
You may leave your home to run essential errands like going to the grocery store, food bank and meal pick-up locations. Some Minnesota grocery stores are offering special shopping hours for at-risk populations, contact your neighborhood stores for more information about COVID-19 precautions.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps, ensures that Americans receive the food they need, especially if they are newly unemployed. Congress has invested in SNAP in the last three coronavirus relief bills to help Americans put food on the table during this crisis. Click here to access the Minnesota SNAP website to see if you are eligible and apply for assistance
- Congress has also secured $850 million in emergency funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to help food banks face increased utilization and demand in countless communities across the country due to the coronavirus. To find food assistance near you, call the USDA National Hunger Hotline 1-866-3-HUNGRY/1877-8-HAMBRE
- Click here to download the Minnesota Free Meals For Kids app
- As more schools close due to coronavirus, Congress has provided emergency funding for Child Nutrition Programs to ensure students can still receive their free or reduced-price school meals during this time. Contact your school district for more information about the meal services that are available to your family
MNsure is offering a special enrollment period for qualified individuals who are currently without insurance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This special enrollment period runs Monday, March 23 through Tuesday, April 21.
Governor Walz signed Emergency Executive Order 20-14 suspending evictions and writs of recovery for the term of the COVID-19 peacetime emergency.
- Click here to visit the Minnesota Department of Housing's COVID-19 information page
- Click here to file a complaint about a wrongful eviction with the Minnesota Attorney General
- Call the Minnesota COVID-19 Housing Hotline at 651-296-8215 (single family residences) or 651-297-4455 (multi-family residences) for additional support
The CARES Act relief package also includes important protections and assistance for homeowners and renters, including:
- Mortgage Forbearance: Homeowners with FHA, USDA, VA, or Section 184 or 184A mortgages (for members of federally-recognized tribes) and those with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac have the right to request forbearance on their payments for up to six months, with a possible extension for another six months without fees, penalties, or extra interest. Homeowners should contact their mortgage servicing company directly.
- Eviction Protections: Renters residing in public or assisted housing, or in a home or apartment whose owner has a federally-backed mortgage, and who are unable to pay their rent, are protected from eviction for four months. Property owners are also prohibited from issuing a 30-day notice to a tenant to vacate a property until after the four-month moratorium ends. This protection covers properties that receive federal subsidies such as public housing, Section 8 assistance, USDA rural housing programs, and federally-issued or guaranteed mortgages. Renters whose landlord is not abiding by the moratorium should contact the relevant federal agency that administers their housing program or their local Legal Aid office.
- Energy Asistance: The CARES Act indluded $900 million to help low income Americans and their families heat and cool their homes thruogh the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Click here to learn if you qualify and apply online for energy assistance
COVID-19, and the accompanying physical and financial worries, can cause considerable amounts of stress. Take care of yourself, spend time outdoors, use technology to connect with loved ones, and ask for help when you need it.
- Click here for guidance from the CDC on managing stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak
- Click here to read the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)'s COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions during and after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
If you have student loan debt, Congress secured several options outlined below for borrowers that help provide relief through September 30, 2020. During this period, borrowers will be able to:
- Pause payments for federal student loan borrowers who have Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL). Borrowers will not be required to make any payments toward outstanding interest or principal balance
- Suspend interest accrual for such loans so that these balances don’t accrue
- Avoid forced collections such as garnishment of wages, tax refunds, and Social Security benefits
- Halt negative credit reporting
- Ensure a borrower continues to receive credit toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Income-Driven Repayment forgiveness, and loan rehabilitation
- For additional guidance on how to apply and learn about next steps as this critical relief becomes available, refer to the U.S. Department of Education website
The IRS has established a web page to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus.
- Click here to access the IRS coronavirus information center
- Tax filing deadline and payments have been deferred until July 15
Travelers and Minnesotans Abroad
The State Department has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In an emergency, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate or call the following numbers: 1(888) 407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1 (202) 501-4444 (from other countries or jurisdictions).
Unemployment and Paid Leave
If your employment has been affected by COVID-19 you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Thanks to the CARES Act relief package, more laid-off and furloughed workers than ever before (including those new to the job market) will be eligible for Unemployment Insurance and will see an additional $600 per week to match the average paycheck for up to four months of benefits. These benefits will be available immediately. Thousands of people are in the process of applying for unemployment benefits and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MNDEED) call wait times may exceed one hour.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on March 18, 2020 and requires certain employers to provide paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.
- Click here to read a U.S. Department of Labor fact sheet about the employee rights established by the new law.
Congress provided robust emergency funding to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the equipment, tests, and support services – including setting up temporary care sites, mobile treatment centers and increasing telehealth visits to allow more veterans to get care at home – necessary to provide veterans with the additional care they need.
- For further guidance as this funding and initiatives are implemented, please refer to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs COVID-19 information center.
Minnesota veterans impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for financial assistance grants from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA).
- Contact your local County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO) or MDVA Field Operations Representative at FO.MDVA@state.mn.us OR apply online at MinnesotaVeteran.org/COVIDRelief