Ease The Burden

Handy list of COVID-19 financial assistance for Austin residents and businesses

Handy list of COVID-19 financial assistance for Austin residents

financial assistance, worry
From healthcare access to car payments, here are a few resources to help you get through the COVID-19 crisis.  Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The coronavirus is causing massive layoffs and widespread furloughs around Austin, and it feels like it's only the beginning. Fortunately, a number of local, state, and national agencies are offering some financial relief.

Here are some options to get through these tough times. And remember in Austin, 2-1-1 is available to those looking for social services and 3-1-1 can help with general questions.

Jobs and meals
Austin Chamber is a local independent organization that champions prosperity in the city via job growth and business expansion. The group has recently posted a list of work opportunities in a range of industries including food service, healthcare, and banking.

Work Force Solutions Capital Area has a helpful page for workers who've been affected by COVID-19, including a list of local job openings. You can schedule an appointment to speak with someone or seek job assistance by filling out the Rapid Response Workers Form.

Central Texas Food Bank has shifted to drive-thru dispersal of meals in April. Every qualifying family in Travis County will get one 28-pound box of food. If you need government assistance for groceries, the food bank has someone to help you through the process when you schedule a time.

The City of Austin has also launched the ATX Emergency Food Systems Exchange where people can give or receive everything from seeds to fresh produce. 

Child care
The Texas Workforce Commission has launched Frontline Child Care to help working parents employed at essential businesses get access to child care. Find out more here.

State car fees have been put on hold. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is allowing extensions on registration, renewals, and vehicle titling. There's no end date on this temporary waiver; the DMV says it'll be in effect for at least 60 days.

Auto insurance companies are pausing payments or extending payment deadlines including Geico, which is offering flexible payment plans, and Allstate, which is allowing deferred payment plans that let you go two billing cycles of nonpayment with no penalty.

Austin has implemented a 60-day grace period for evictions. Most evictions across the state have been halted until April 20, thanks to an order by the Texas Supreme Court. 

Austin's Neighborhood Housing and Community Development has a comprehensive list of resources for renters, home owners, home buyers, contractors, and developers here.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has suspended evictions and foreclosures on any mortgages through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Some private lenders are also offering grace periods, including Chase Bank which has a payment assistance program here or call 1-800-848-9136; and Wells Fargo, which is offering a three-month payment suspension with an option to extend for an additional three months, with no late fees.

Foundation Communities of Austin is a resource for housing needs plus other emergency assistance including medical and grocery. Call 512-610-7392.

CommUnity Care is helping uninsured or under insured Austinites who are experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, shortness of breath) can call 512-978-8775 for help.

Aunt Bertha matches qualified individuals with food, housing, transit, health/medical, education, and legal help.

Small businesses
The newly enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has a variety of programs for small businesses including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, which has grants of up to $10,000. It is supposed to begin on April 3, although lenders are anticipating delays since they're still awaiting guidelines.

The Small Business Administration has a page dedicated to coronavirus relief options that include low-interest loans and disaster relief.

The Thryv Foundation is a Texas-based nonprofit that has created a COVID-19 grant program with up to $15,000 to small businesses who qualify. You can apply here.

The IRS has extended tax day, which means you don't have to file until July 15, free of interest and penalties.

Some workers qualify for state unemployment benefits through the Texas Workforce Commission. The site has been slow due to a surge in applications, but the organization is waiving the normal waiting period; once you apply, you get your first check in about a month.

Taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 are due to receive a check of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples, and up to $500 for each qualifying child. The payments decrease if you make more than $75,000, or more than $150,000 as a household, so check the site to see how much you qualify for.

Student loans
Federal student loan payments have been placed on hold until September 30. U.S. Department of Education Select loans will carry zero percent interest rate.