Welcome to MLPB's COVID-19 Digital Digest. Our team has created this open-access tool to help workforce colleagues navigate law and policy changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intended to provide guidance and problem-solving strategies to address a range of key HRSN needs.  

This tool:

  • Distills major federal (nation-wide) themes in resources, benefits and legal protections.
  • Curates high-level, evolving information and identifies expert resources in key domains of HRSN, through the lens of two states – MA and RI – where MLPB does extensive work.

Some guidelines to help you get the most out of this tool: 

  • The Bulletin = pressing, need to know information, often with upcoming deadlines.
  • The Basics = MLPB's curation of key developments in law and policy.
  • The Breakdown = MLPB's translation of these developments into plain language interpretations of what these changes mean for areas of HRSN need.
  • The Bottom Line = Based on MLPB’s expertise, the essential takeaways needed to navigate the HRSN domain of interest
  • Last-reviewed Timestamps = MLPB routinely reviews content and updates information as appropriate. 
  • Feedback: Please get in touch! Email Administrative Manager Meg Baker at mbaker@mlpboston.org.

Exclaim This information is for educational purposes only; nothing in it should be construed as legal advice. 

© 2020 MLPB, a fiscally sponsored program of TSNE MissionWorks

The Bulletin

 


Click below to navigate to a topic of interest!  

Education_Childcare   Employment + SB   Food_Income InsecurityHealth Insurance Housing Instability  Immigration   IPV   Mental Health   Transportation Needs-1 Utility NeedsVA  WTD


Education_Childcare

Headline: The ED’s Distance Education and Innovation rule will go into effect on July 1, 2021. The rule shifts the focus of remote learning from a learning-time model to a competency-based model.

Last-reviewed Timestamp: 10:00am October 21, 2020

The Basics:

Key Resource

US Dept. of Ed (ED) COVID-19 Info

The Breakdown:

The Bottom Line:

  • Academic and health plans for K-12 schools will vary state-to-state.
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Employment

Headline: The US Department of Labor issued regulations effective September 16, 2020 that clarify who is eligible for paid leave from work under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and what is required of employees to get approved for FFCRA leave. Importantly, a large category of healthcare employees had been excluded previously, and the new regulations make it clear that only healthcare employees who provide direct patient care are excluded.

Last-reviewed Timestamp: 11:00am, October 21, 2020

Paid Leave and Work Safety

The Basics:

Key Resources

1. Dept. of Labor (DOL) COVID-19 Resources

2. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) COVID-19  

3. National Employment Law Project (NELP) Resources

--2 weeks of leave at pay ranging from 66%-100%, determined by the reason for absence;
--Up to 10 weeks of leave at 66% pay for those employed for more than 30 days.
--The US Department of Labor issued regulations effective September 16, 2020 that clarify who is eligible for paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and what is required of employees to get approved for FFCRA leave. Importantly, a large category of healthcare employees had been excluded previously, and the new regulations make it clear that only healthcare employees who provide direct patient care are excluded.

The Breakdown:

  • FFCRA makes paid sick leave more available to many employees.
  • FFCRA applies to all employers with fewer than 500 employees. Larger employers may offer benefits voluntarily but it's not required by law.
  • FFCRA applies to companies with fewer than 50 employees but these businesses may not have to pay for leave caused by school closing or childcare unavailability if they request to be excused (“waiver”), AND the waiver request is approved.
  • Many employees will NOT benefit from FFCRA due to these limitations.
  • While there are still limitations including those referenced above, the DOL regulations that went into effect on September 16, 2020 include many healthcare employees that might have been excluded previously, because now the exclusion only applies narrowly to workers involved in direct patient care. The regulations also clarify when employees are required to get permission to take intermittent leave. Leave necessary to care for children when schools implement remote learning on a part-time basis ("hybrid models") is NOT considered intermittent leave requiring employer permission.
  • WorkLife Law at University of California Hastings College of the Law provides a clear analysis of the benefits and the limits of FFCRA.

The Bottom Line:

  • Workers will need to learn what benefits they have through their Human Resources department, including determining how much FCCRA protection and other paid time off will cover any work missed for COVID-19-related reasons.
  • The DOL’s regulations are useful for employees seeking to take paid-time off due to COVID-19-related care-giving responsibility: they clarify that many previously excluded healthcare workers are eligible for FFCRA leave, and they also clarify the process for taking intermittent leave.
  • As more states begin reopening businesses, there may be conflict between employees concerned about a safe return to work, and employers eager to resume business. Some federal laws offer protection, but the rules have exceptions, and are not easy to enforce.  Local coalitions for occupational safety and health may have information on advocacy and resources to address this concern.

Unpaid Leave

The Basics:

  • The DOL has new guidance regarding the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  • Under FMLA, eligible workers can receive job-protected unpaid leave to address their own illness or to provide caregiving to a close family member. Employees who have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last year may be eligible whether their issue is related to COVID-19 or another health issue.
  • Employment discrimination based on national origin or race, age, gender, or the perception that one has a disability, is illegal. If employment discrimination for these or other reasons is experienced, a complaint can be filed with the EEOC, telephonically or electronically. Also visit state and local anti-discrimination agencies’ websites for COVID-19-related non-discrimination information and practical updates.

The Breakdown:

  • Existing FMLA protections are available in addition to FFCRA. FMLA allows more time off without the risk of losing one’s job, though FMLA itself does not provide paid leave.

The Bottom Line:

  • Human Resources can clarify whether workers have any specific insurance policies, such as short-term disability leave, which may provide coverage if an employee needs to miss work due to COVID-19-related illness.
  • Though many employers may benefit from legislation that makes money available, furloughs and layoffs are still happening and likely will continue.
  • It is illegal to choose candidates for furlough or lay off based on a person’s membership in groups considered to be at higher risk for COVID-19-related illness or caregiving responsibility.

Job Loss

The Basics:

  • If a job is lost due to COVID-19, Unemployment Insurance may be available. Some requirements have been suspended.
  • The CARES Act passed on March 27, 2020 authorized states to award unemployment benefits to self-employed workers: an important and less protected sector of the workforce that includes independent contractors and “gig economy” workers. It also increases the amount of benefits and how long they last. All full- and part-time employees are eligible if they have worked for the employer for at least 30 days. Visit state unemployment agency websites for the latest COVID-19-related information and practical updates.
  • Some states’ applications for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding have been approved to supplement unemployment benefits, but only a few hundred dollars a week for about 6 weeks. Check with the local unemployment agency to learn more about this Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. It appears that the funding will run out soon across the country, spotlighting the need for deeper federal funding legislation. Some states have taken steps to make sure even those receiving the lowest level of unemployment benefits can receive this supplement. Click here for information about the effort to increase access in one state, and check with local unemployment agencies and legislators to learn about the status of such efforts state by state.
  • Employment discrimination based on national origin or race, age, gender, or the perception that one has a disability, is illegal. If employment discrimination for these or other reasons is experienced, a complaint can be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( EEOC), telephonically or electronically. Also visit state and local anti-discrimination agencies’ websites for COVID-19-related non-discrimination information and practical updates.
  • The federal Department of Labor issued a disability and language access Advisory on May 11, 2020, which affirms that Unemployment Insurance agencies must make services available to people in ways that provide equal access regardless of disability or limited English proficiency.
  • Scams involving identity theft used for fraudulent unemployment applications is leading to increased demands on claimants to verify identity, and delays in application approval. This slows the process for people who need and have a right to prompt payment of benefits. Employment law advocates across the country are strategizing about how to assure benefits are payed promptly as required by law, despite the impact of the scam on a system already under pressure.

The Breakdown:

  • The CARES Act increases and extends unemployment benefits for eligible workers, including some self-employed workers who were not eligible under pre-COVID-19 unemployment benefits programs. CARES Act benefits coverage depends on how it is implemented at the state level. Check state government websites for updates.
  • Note: Being called an Independent Contractor does not mean a person is an independent contractor. Learn more about who is classified as an Independent Contractor.
  • Responses to the Unemployment Scams may vary state to state, with some states, like Washington, filing a law suit against the agency administering Unemployment Insurance benefits.  Washington’s law suit challenges how the agency has halted people’s benefits during fraud investigation. Consider contacting local worker advocacy groups and elected officials for guidance and support as efforts evolve to address both the fraud schemes and resulting delays in issuing legitimate benefits.
  • The COVID-19-related changes to unemployment rules are complicated, and after administering benefits for a few months, state agencies sought clarification from the Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL recently published some answers to these questions, which are linked here. While some questions and answers are quite technical, there are also a number of questions and answers that are clear and may be useful in problem-solving.

The Bottom Line:

  • For workers who lose their jobs, state-level departments of unemployment assistance have made CARES Act implementation plans for self-employed people like Independent Contractors and gig workers.
  • Though many employers may benefit from legislation that makes money available, furloughs and layoffs are still happening and likely will continue.
  • It is illegal to choose candidates for layoff based on a person’s membership in groups considered to be at higher risk for COVID-19-related illness or caregiving responsibility, or to use COVID-19 layoffs as an excuse (pretext) for intentional discrimination against a group the employer is prejudiced against.
  • To restore FPUC-type benefits (the $600 unemployment supplement) through legislation like the HEROES Act, contact local employee rights groups to join in advocacy.
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Food_Income Insecurity

Headline: The IRS extended the deadline to submit a IRS Non-Filer Form for an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) to November 21, 2020. Those who miss the deadline will have to wait until they file their 2020 taxes. Assistance is available through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Last-reviewed Timestamp: 10:00pm, October 21, 2020

The Basics:

Key Resources

1. Food & Nutrition Service COVID-19 Response

2. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Coronavirus Tax Relief

3. Social Security Administration (SSA) COVID-19 Updates

4. US Dept of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Public Health

The Breakdown:

  • Changes in USDA programs will look different state-to-state.
  • The IRS extended the deadline to request an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) to November 21, 2020. Those who did not file 2019 federal income taxes can complete an IRS Non-Filer Form. If they miss the deadline, their next opportunity to request an EIP will be when they file their 2020 federal income taxes.
  • A federal judge ordered the IRS to Economic Impact Payments (EIP) to incarcerated persons who otherwise qualify. The IRS will automatically issue payments to anyone who filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return. If they did not file, they must complete an IRS Non-Filer Form by November 21, 2020. If they miss the deadline, they will have another opportunity to file in January 2021.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a guide for individuals who have not yet received their EIP.

The Bottom Line:

  • Sharing reliable, up-to-date information about the changing resource landscape with families is key to optimizing household income and increasing food stability. Menu

Health Insurance

Headline: Don’t miss a health insurance special enrollment period Maryland, New York, and the District of Columbia are allowing people to secure public health insurance during a time-limited window, due to COVID-19.

Last-reviewed Timestamp: 11:00am, October 21, 2020

The Basics:

Key Resources

1. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA)

 2. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Current Emergencies

  • Don’t miss a health insurance special enrollment period MD, NY and DC are allowing people to secure public health insurance during a time-limited window, due to COVID-19.
  • CMS has stated that people who purchased catastrophic health insurance through state health insurance exchanges will be covered for COVID-19 care and will not have to pay deductibles first.
  • USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) has made it clear that the new public charge rule will not apply to testing, treatment or preventive care for COVID-19.
  • CVS currently offers more than 2,000 COVID-19 test sites across the country. Click here for testing locations.

The Breakdown:

  • More people will be able to enroll in health coverage and access care including COVID-19 testing and medication.

The Bottom Line

  • Some states have applied for “1135 waivers,” a type of federal permission to innovate care delivery. Waivers can be used in many flexible ways, such as new places where care can be provided; fast ways for out-of-state clinicians to get permission to provide care; and quick methods to get Medicaid coverage approved.
  • If approved by the federal government, Waivers will expand the healthcare system’s toolbox for delivering care when and where it’s needed under crisis conditions. Some of the federal government’s responses to 1135 waivers requests are available state-by state here and here.
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Housing Instability

Headline: The National Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a nationwide eviction moratorium protecting most tenants experiencing financial hardship, that took effect September 4, 2020 through at least December 31, 2020.

Last-reviewed Timestamp: 4:30pm, October 19, 2020

The Basics:

Key Resources

1. HUD COVID-19 Resources & Fact Sheets

2. Veterans Affairs FAQ

3. National Housing Law Project (NHLP)

  • The Eviction Lab at Princeton University has assembled a state-level overview of COVID-19-related eviction laws (ranked by tenant-protectiveness), as well as resources for tenants in need, and opportunities to engage in advocacy for stronger tenant protections.
  • On August 27, 2020, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) extended the foreclosure and eviction moratorium for homeowners with FHA-insured single family mortgages until at least December 31, 2020.
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are offering a 12-month forbearance (delay in payments, without interest or penalties). Homeowners should check if their mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Housing discrimination – including eviction or refusal to rent – based on national origin or race, age, gender, or the perception that one has a disability, is illegal. If discrimination is experienced for these or other reasons, one option is to file a complaint with HUD telephonically or electronically.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) “encourages” lenders and servicers to be flexible with borrowers impacted by COVID-19, but the relief is not mandated, unfortunately. The VA’s letter can be found here.

The Breakdown:

  • The CDC Eviction Moratorium assures a protection against non-payment eviction through December 31, 2020 for most tenants nationwide. For people to exercise their rights under the CDC’s eviction moratorium, tenants must prepare a specific written statement and give it to their landlord. The CDC has prepared a sample form here.
  • The FHA moratorium protects homeowners with FHA-insured, single-family homes from foreclosures. It also prevents evictions of people living in FHA-insured single-family properties.
  • The limited federal protections, described above, may be extended. They do not create debt forgiveness, but they offer debt delay – still a valuable safety net during this crisis.

The Bottom Line:

  • Confusion is predictable, nobody should be shy about asking for clarification.
  • The CDC recently published a frequently asked questions letter to help people understand how the CDC moratorium protects renters, and who is covered by the moratorium.
  • Emergency shelter may be available for families who qualify.
  • Additional, free legal assistance can be found here.
  • Similarly, frontline workforces at large agencies or companies may need time to learn changed rules. Try to have something in writing on hand – like a link to a consumer protection announcement – that indicates a right or eligibility for benefits.
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Immigration

Headline: USCIS can use the new public charge rule to decide legal permanent resident (“green card”) applications in all states.


Last-reviewed Timestamp: 4:30pm, October 19, 2020

The Basics:

Key Resources

1. National Immigration Law Center: COVID-19 & Healthcare

2. Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition

3. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)

  • Most USCIS field offices and asylum offices have reopened. Visitors must follow this policy. Naturalization ceremonies have also resumed.
  • Immigration Courts have different operational statuses. Case information is available online with a 9-digit alien registration number (A-#########) or by calling the Executive Office of Administration Review at 1-800-898-7180.
  • MLRI is tracking COVID-related immigration orders. Many of the recent orders issued have implications for refugee and asylee status.
  • USCIS can use the new public charge rule to decide legal permanent resident (“green card”) applications in all states.
The Breakdown
  • The US will not allow entry to foreign nationals from several countries around the world. As a result, many may find it difficult to enter the country, or may find it difficult to re-enter upon leaving.
  • The Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition has a reference sheet outlining immigrant eligibility for COVID-19 supports created by federal legislation.
  • College students who have an immigration status that make them ineligible for federal student financial aid may be eligible for emergency grants under the CARES Action Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Students who believe they might qualify should apply for emergency grants directly with their school.

The Bottom Line

    • These changes make an uncertain time even more uncertain for immigrant populations. Families with questions about public charge should connect with immigration experts to have their specific questions and needs evaluated.
    • Some noncitizens, such as immigrants with TPS, U-visas, DACA, and Withholding of Removal status, undocumented immigrants, and other immigrants who have applied for certain other statuses do not qualify for Title IV federal student financial aid. Those same noncitizens may be eligible for HEERF to cover:
                --Technology purchases to participate in online courses
                --Internet fees
                --Purchase of books or materials
                --Unexpected childcare costs 
                --Travel expenses
                --And other costs related to educational disruptions caused by the pandemic

 

Public Charge

Headline: The Executive Office for Immigration Review has information regarding the status of various courts online, and many courts reopened on June 15, 2020

 

Last-reviewed Timestamp: 2:30pm October 13, 2020

 

The basics:

Key Resources

1. Natl Immigration Law Center

2. Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition

3 U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)

Remember: the new public charge rule does not apply to naturalized citizens, legal permanent residents (“green card holders”), asylum seekers, refugees, VAWA recipients, U-Visa holders, T-Visa holders, or those with Temporary Protected Status. 
  • The Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition has put out a quick reference sheet outlining immigrant eligibility for COVID-19 supports created by federal legislation.
  • The President issued an executive order that limits who may be granted new travel visas to enter the U.S. as lawful permanent residents during the COVID crisis. The decree will ban entry of new lawful permanent residents for at least sixty days, but exceptions exist for applicants already in the United States, medical workers, farmworkers, and the spouses of U.S. citizens and their children under 21. 

The breakdown

  • Many immigration case proceedings are paused, and this leaves many individuals and families in limbo.
  • Forms of COVID-19 medical attention should be safely accessible without public charge implications. This is an area of uncertainty and frequent change, but updates can be tracked at the websites noted above.
  • Many non-citizen individuals outside the U.S. borders may find it difficult to enter the country, or may find it difficult to re-enter upon leaving.

The bottom line

  • These changes make an uncertain time even more uncertain for immigrant populations.
  • Many decisions and proclamations are issued in thirty-day or sixty-day intervals, which means changes may occur as those intervals draw to a close. Menu


IPV

Headline: More physical distancing from the outside world can mean less physical distancing between victims and perpetrators. Safety planning resources offer vital texting options to address this COVID-19 barrier to outreach. The National DV hotline also offers a chat option.

 

Last-reviewed Timestamp: 2:00pm, October 21, 2020

The Basics:

Key Resources

1. Futures Without Violence

2. National Domestic Violence Chat Hotline

3. Police Accountability Project

  • Interpersonal safety resources address domestic violence, abuse and neglect of children, older adults, and persons with disabilities.
  • Even when local courts have limited in-person accessibility, safeguards are in place to ensure that emergency orders can be issued for instances of domestic violence, elder neglect or abuse, child neglect or abuse, and neglect or abuse of persons with disabilities.
  • Congress authorized additional hotline and shelter funding in the CARES Act, recognizing the increased demand for and adaptation required of these systems during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Check with individual community-based organizations to learn how they are operating during the crisis.
  • In case of emergency, call 911.

The Breakdown:

  • Social/physical distancing limitations control IPV victims’ movement in ways that may be triggering and endangering. Safety planning requires different focus and tools in these times, and it is more important than ever to connect with organizations best equipped to empower victims using adapted best practices.
  • Essential safety services through police and courts should be functioning in most places. However, for many victims these resources may not be good, sufficient, or safe options. Police brutality is an interpersonal safety issue. Police have the responsibility and power to protect people.  That same power can be dangerous, sometimes lethal, especially when fueled by racism and other prejudice like homophobia, misogyny, and transphobia. While this is not a pathway to emergency response, the National Lawyers Guild can be a resource: Police Accountability Project. 
  • The above-referenced resources are available instead of or in addition to court or police, and they include an interactive on-line safety planning tool

 The Bottom Line:

  • Local community-based organizations have been mobilizing to address these new challenges – both to maintaining protective services for current clients, and initiating new investigations relating to suspicion of neglect or abuse.
  • Outreach to time to learn of new resources and evolving best practices. Each state may name its agencies differently and asking colleagues in the field or searching a state or city/town website may help locate the agency charged with addressing abuse or neglect of persons with disabilities, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, or elder abuse. Below are some national organizations that list resources for victims of abuse:

Mental Health

Headline: The CDC estimates that in late June, 40% of American adults experienced depression, anxiety, or substance use issues due to the COVID pandemic.

 

Last-reviewed Timestamp: 10:00am, October 13, 2020

The Basics:

Key Resource

APA COVID-19 Resources for Providers, Families, & Community Leaders

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes that the COVID-19 outbreak has had an impact on the mental health of many Americans. A recent CDC report estimates that in late June, 40% of American adults experienced depression, anxiety, or substance use issues due to the COVID pandemic.
  • Mental Health America has put together some COVID-19 resources designed to help people cope with staying at home and managing pandemic-related anxiety.
  • Some employers may offer special support program such as Employment Assistance Programs. Check with individual employers for more information.
  • Many mental health providers are offering telehealth support to remain available during this difficult time.
  • The Mental Health America Hotline provides text-based services. Text MHA to 741741.
  • SAMHSA has a Disaster Distress Hotline that operates 24/7 to support people experiencing difficulties related to the pandemic. The number is 1-800-985-5990.

The Breakdown

The Bottom Line

  • It is understandable and normative to struggle with the new routines and process created by the pandemic, to say nothing of the difficulties created by the virus itself. Resources remain available to help anyone having difficulty with this challenging time.

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Transportation Needs-1

Headline: On October 1, 2020, the US Department of State announced that US Passport operations reopened for routine services.

 

Last-reviewed Timestamp: 10:00am, October 21, 2020

The Basics:

Key Resource

Federal Transit Administration COVID-19

  • The US Department of State issued country-specific advisories for international travelers. Many states have issued stay-at-home orders and/or mandatory quarantine for out-of-state visitors.

 The Breakdown:

 The Bottom Line

  • Federal and state policies that restrict travel will continue to change in response to national and local needs.Menu

 


Utility Needs

Headline: Fall has arrived: some states have special utility consumer protections related to COVID-19 that will be increasingly necessary as heating bills climb. Even in states without pandemic programs, there may be general utility consumer protections that require customers to take specific actions. NCLC compiles a nationwide list of Consumer Protections during COVID-19, and here is a nationwide list of general utility consumer protections.

Last-reviewed Timestamp: 3:00pm, October 13, 2020

The Basics:

Key Resources

1. Everyone On - low cost connectivity resources during COVID-19

2. National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) Consumer Protections during COVID-19

3. National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA) Utility Shutoff Suspensions

Telephone and Internet

  • Some major cell phone providers have made “pledges” not to disconnect customers.
  • The “Keep America Connected” pledge requested by the FCC, expired June 30, 2020. If any of the hundreds of companies that had honored the Pledge now begin to disconnect consumers for non-payment, they still have to follow written notice and other rules.
  • Now is also good time to explore the kinds of telephone and internet resources and protections that are generally available to low-income households. For example, the FCC has taken action to raise awareness about the Nationwide Lifeline Program for affordable telephone or internet service, a benefit for which many consumers may be newly eligible during the pandemic, as well as free and low-cost services that some companies are providing voluntarily.

Home Energy Utilities:

  • On May 8, 2020, the Federal Government announced its state-by-state allocations of supplemental Fuel Assistance funding as provided in the CARES Act. Each state’s allocation is listed here
  • While little has happened at the federal level to protect gas and electric service from disconnection, this supplementary funding may help financially struggling households to access some additional money to defray home energy expenses.
  • It is important to visit local Community Action Programs (CAP) for information about how to apply. A list is available here.
  • Any specific protections against utility disconnections are managed at the state level, or by the voluntary commitments of gas and electric companies. The NEADA link, above, curates information about gas and electricity protections by state.

Water

The Bottom Line

  • Where shut-off protections or voluntary pledges have been made in response to States of Emergency declared at state levels, disconnections of utility service may begin again when the declarations are lifted. Hopefully this can be avoided, but spikes in disconnections do happen around the expiration of the Winter Moratorium each year in states with such protections. In states with additional low-income consumer protections, households should be prepared to assert the usual utility shut-off protection verifications (financial + age or illness) promptly, with the support of healthcare providers and consumer advocates such as those at a local CAP office.
  • Now that fall is upon us, it is important to mobilize in support of the many consumers who heat with propane and oil. Similarly, in states with hot climates, the need for cooling may remain urgent. CAP agencies are key leaders in this advocacy arena, and here is a list to find a local CAP office. These are the programs that administer fuel assistance applications.
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VA

Headline: More than 45,000 National Guard members have been activated by US states and territories in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Labor issued a fact sheet about activated guard and reserve members job protection rights

Last-reviewed Timestamp: 7:00pm, September 15, 2020

The Basics:

Key Resources

1. VA COVID-19 FAQ

2. National Coalition for Homeless Veterans COVID-19 Resources

3. National Center for PTSD's COVID-19 Resources for Managing Stress

  • The CARES Act earmarks $20 billion for VA health and housing systems, which should increase capacity and help keep patients/residents as safe as possible.
  • Student Veterans can receive full housing allowance even if transitioned to on-line learning.
  • Veteran-owned businesses are eligible for loans to maintain payroll.
  • Forbearance can be negotiated for VA Mortgages.
  • The VA has stopped collection on new VA debt, and the Treasury will not take further action to collect old debt at this time. For information on debt repayment options, and for other frequently asked questions, check their FAQ
  • The VA has discretion to consider paying pensions to veterans and family members who otherwise would be considered over-income for emergency payments.
  • The Stop Movement Order that expired on May 11, 2020, and has been replaced with a more regional and situation-specific response. This has implications for service members housing and employment. Active service members have special housing and employment rights that the Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division is committed to enforcing.

The Breakdown:

  • Veterans disproportionately confront homelessness and live with unmet needs for substance use treatment and behavioral health care. This pandemic may trigger more acute symptoms, so the need to access supportive services and resources like those outlined above is profound.
  • The DOJ March 13, 2020 Stop Movement order expired on May 11, 2020, and has been replaced by more regionally specific limitations and permissions. For most states and several locations abroad, travel restrictions have been lifted by the Department of Defense, however the decision about whether to move servicemembers is still discretionary based on local conditions. There still may be impacts on leases signed in anticipation of moving. Also, there still may be impact employment for servicemembers who are activated in response to COVID-19. Click here for guidance on how to learn about impacts for particular servicemembers and their families.

The Bottom Line:

  • Veterans who have not used VA health services before may choose to do when their own care providers are unavailable. At a time when the private healthcare system is strained, Veterans have a well-deserved additional healthcare system to turn to.
  • Borrowers concerned about affording they’re VA-backed mortgages may be able to “forbear” (delay) making loan payments for 6–12 months without harming their credit, if the financial hardship is related, even indirectly, to COVID-19. Forbearance has to be negotiated with the lender. FAQs are here.
  • Local Veterans and Servicemember Advocacy organizations may activate to address concerns related to Stop Movement and COVID-19-related assignments.  Check State Government websites and local Bar Associations for Veteran and Military services and other specialized programs. (For example, BBA Military Legal Help Line)Menu

 


WTD

  • Support those who rely on benefits by purchasing your groceries after the 14th day of the month and avoiding items that are labeled WIC-approved.
  • Find your polling place and vote on November 3, 2020.
  • Find your state and federal representatives and tell them how you feel about important legislation.
  • Find organizations that are advocating for others and join their cause.
  • Take time to relax by virtually visiting museums or watching fitness videos.
  • If you have the funds, support organizations that are helping others. Donate locally!

The Breakdown: 

  • The future progression of COVID-19 is unknown.
  • In this time of stress and uncertainty, self-care is also highly important.

The Bottom Line

  • As the situation unfolds, more advocacy may be needed to address further inequities that arise as a result of the pandemic.

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© 2020 MLPB, a fiscally sponsored program of TSNE MissionWorks