Community Services Connection Newsletter - COVID-19 Resources and Updates

COVID-19 Resources and Updates

DHCD has created a COVID-19 resource page with information relevant to our grantees. Please follow the link to learn more. 

We also encourage you to stay in touch with Governor Hogan's regular updates on Maryland's overall response to Covid-19. This week the Governor has announced the closure of all nonessential businesses and a $175 million relief package for workers and small businesses affected by COVID-19: 
  • Closure of all nonessential businesses: In addition to what is already closed by prior orders, this order required the closure of anything that is not included in the new federal guidelines for critical infrastructure sectors. For more information, refer to the Office of Legal Counsel's Interpretive Guidance.
  • Economic Relief Package: The Maryland Department of Commerce will offer up to $125 million in loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofits through the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. A $75 million loan fund and a $50 million grant fund, with $1 million in grants dedicated to non-profits, will provide working capital to be used for payroll, rent, fixed-debt payments and other mission critical cash operating costs. Additional guidance can be found here.
  • COVID-19 Layoff Aversion: In an effort to help businesses keep employees on the payroll as social distancing and teleworking is implemented, the Department of Labor has created a COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund of up to $50,000 per applicant. That funding can be used to cover the costs of purchasing remote access equipment and software, sanitization services to enable small businesses to keep employees at work on site, liability insurance for restaurants that convert to delivery, and more. You can learn more and apply here.

Support for Residents and Families

Assistance for Households Experiencing Financial Hardship Related to Covid-19

Major regional utility companies have devised plans for customer support and assistance to be sure customers are not left without services vital to maintaining their families health and safety while people are out of work and encouraged to remain at home whenever possible.  If households you serve are at risk due to disconnected utilities or unable to pay bills, we encourage providers to help them identify what provisions for support and accommodation are already offered by major utilities, and to call and communicate with their utility company to request assistance based on individual circumstances.  Major utility companies have already put in place plans and provisions to ensure utility access is maintained for households in need and protect the public health.  

Companies offering this support include but are not limited to:

Exelon companies Delmarva power and Pepco

These providers are "suspending service disconnections and waiving new late payment charges at least until May 1 and will be working with customers on a case-by-case basis to establish payment arrangements and identify energy assistance options."  According to a press release from Delmarva, assistance can also include working to reconnect households that may have already been disconnected so families can be safe during the Covid-19 crisis. 

Washington Gas is suspending service disconnections and waiving late fees. They are also offering payment arrangements.

WSSC Water will be suspending water service disconnections and waiving late fees. They are also offering support to households on a case by case basis and customers should contact them about any account issues, such as requests to restore an already disconnected water service.

Verizon is offering a variety of services and supports for Residential, small business and lifeline providers. These include suspension of service disconnection and late fees for households and new internet access options for low income households.

Comcast Xfinity is expanding internet connection options and services for low income households and suspending disconnection of services among other supports for the community in response to Covid 19.

Maryland Unemployment Insurance: beginning March 20th, Maryland has temporarily waived the work search requirement for individuals receiving unemployment insurance benefits. Additionally, Maryland does not require a lapse between unemployment and eligibility for benefits. Please share this link with your clients to learn more and to file for unemployment insurance. 

National and Federal Resources 

Homeless Service Providers 
Immediate Impact Grants are available to help your organization serve people without homes in the COVID-19 pandemic. Apply for unrestricted grants of $25,000-$50,000 by 5 p.m. CT on March 30. 

We encourage providers to utilize the resources related to preparing for and responding to the Covid-19 pandemic's impact on sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations and services staff. A new resource guide has been released by CDC with guidance specific to safety and infection prevention for homeless service providers.
Housing Counseling Service Providers

Fannie Mae is communicating temporary policies to enable servicers to better assist borrowers impacted by COVID-19. The policies are effective immediately and are effective until Fannie Mae provides further notice, unless otherwise stated. In particular, this communication provides all servicers with instructions and support on how to assist borrowers who have experienced a hardship resulting from COVID-19 which has impacted their ability to make their monthly mortgage loan payment. Read more here
FNMA issued a Lender Letter (LL-2020-05) introducing payment deferral, a new home retention workout option jointly developed with Freddie Mac at the direction of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. This workout option enables servicers to assist eligible borrowers who have resolved a temporary hardship and resumed their monthly contractual payments but cannot afford either a full reinstatement or repayment plan to bring the loan current.  Click here for a list of requirements for the payment deferral.
HUD is providing Immediate relief for homeowners and suspending all foreclosure and evictions for the next 60 days. Read more here.

The Chief Judge of the MD Court of Appeals issued an order that effectively suspends foreclosures and evictions during the COVID-19 emergency. Read more here

Industry guidance from the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation on COVID-19 can be found here

Updates on Supplemental Funding

The CARES Act: Wednesday the Senate passed HR 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act. More than 80 percent of the total funding provided in the coronavirus emergency supplemental appropriations division of the package will go directly to state and local governments. The relief package includes a significant expansion of the unemployment insurance program, expanded resources for the health care system, support for state and local governments, direct cash assistance to Americans, as well as supplemental appropriations to various programs across the government. 

The Act includes, $1 billion in supplemental appropriations for carrying out sections 674 through 679 of the Community Services Block Grant Act. Additionally the Act includes administrative funding for states and expands service eligibility from 125% to 200% of poverty. The Act has also appropriated $750 million for Head Start. A summary of the appropriations can be found here. 

Paid Leave in Coronavirus Package: HR 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) contains an extensive paid leave component: new emergency sick leave, as well as an expansion of the existing Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). CAPLAW has put together guidance for CAA's. Please note the effective date has been changed to April 1, 2020. 

For more information, please refer to the Department of Labor's Q&A.

Other Resources and Information

Tax Filing Deadline Extended

Earlier this week, U.S. Treasury secretary announced that Tax Day has been moved to July 15th, extending the tax season amid the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. The deadline for Maryland state individual tax filings and payments will be extended to July 15th, as well. Taxpayers now have an additional 90 days to file their federal and MD state income tax returns and make payments if they owe.

 Domestic Violence Rise Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

As the coronavirus outbreak confines more people to their homes, contributes to job losses and causes other financial hardships, it will also spur a rise in domestic violence, experts warn. Read the full article here.
Maryland Emergency Management Agency

MEMA maintains a list of Local Emergency Management Directors along with Local Emergency Center Contacts and Hotlines. Please follow the links to learn more. 

HUD is advertising for the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing Counseling
For more information, click here.