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Resources For Those In Need Of Housing Support, Financial Assistance And Other Aid

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Gene J. Puskar
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AP
A double line of cars, stretching over a mile at times, are queued waiting as volunteers load food into vehicles outside the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne, Pa., Monday, April 6, 2020.

As the COVID-19 pandemic puts an increasing number of Pennsylvanians out of work — over a million have filed for unemployment to date — many are turning to local nonprofit and government organizations for support.

Here is a list of local resources available for anyone who might need financial aid, housing support, small business and employment funds, and health care providers.

General community resources:

Financial aid:

  • Port Authority Transit Pass Reimbursement: Port Authority riders who have purchased monthly or weekly passes but are now being told to stay home are eligible to request reimbursement. By contacting the Port Authority online or via phone at 412-442-2000, riders can receive a credit for the remaining time on their purchased passes.
  • Hebrew Free Loan Association of Pittsburgh: The association has announced a Coronavirus Financial Bridge Loan Program to provide interest-free loans on a nonsectarian basis for up to $5,000 to residents of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Westmoreland, Washington, and Armstrong counties who are facing financial challenges caused by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak. These loans are intended to address:
    • Lost wages due to being unable to go to work
    • Childcare costs due to school closures
    • Small business losses
    • Canceled study abroad programs
    • Related medical costs
  • City of Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center One-on-One Counseling: Pittsburgh’s Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) offers one-on-one, professional financial counseling as a free public service. The FEC helps clients take control of their debt, deal with debt collectors, improve their credit, create a budget, save, connect to safe and affordable financial products.
  • DVI Funding is doing Coronavirus Bridge loans. See site for more info and application.
  • Pittsburgh Mutual Aid: Pittsburgh Mutual Aid is a collective of organizers and individuals who are coming together to assist the community during the COVID-19 crisis through providing economic relief. This fund aims to deliver at least $5k a week to those in Pittsburgh who are in need because they have lost income due to the COVID-19 crisis. For now, we hope to give amounts that are $250 or less. To apply for emergency aid, please fill out the form. Please note that funds will not be shared until raised.
  • If you are a member of First National Bank and experiencing financial hardship with payments, email their support line for further help and relief.
  • PNC Financial Aid: If you cannot make payments, PNC will consider assisting impacted customers by waiving or refunding fees for credit cards and mortgages. Loan assistance programs are also available. Solutions may include postponing payments for a period of time. You may be able to postpone monthly payments without any late fees if you have an auto loan, unsecured installment loan or line of credit, credit card, mortgage, or home equity loan or line of credit.
  • PNC may also allow postponed payments for student loans.

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Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA
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90.5 WESA

Housing and utilities aid:

  • COVID-19 Housing Stabilization Fund: The City of Pittsburgh, URA, and Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh have come together to establish the Housing Stabilization Fund: The fund provides rental, mortage, and utility assistance to any workers who have had their work hours cut due to COVID-19.
  • The fund will assist households who are struggling with rent payments due to COVID-19-related losses in work and wages. City of Pittsburgh residents can call the Urban League at 412-227-4164. Read details of the program here
  • The PSWA has suspended utility shut-offs until at least May 31.
  • LIHEAP: Heating assistance, and anyone who receives LIHEAP also qualifies to have a broken heating system (furnace, boiler, gas line, etc) repaired or replaced at no cost to them. They can request a referral by calling the department of human services at 412-562-0330
  • Comcast Launches Various Internet Programs: Xfinity WiFi hotspots, located throughout the city, will be available to anyone for free, even without a subscription. Additionally, no disconnects or late fees will be assessed on current subscribers. For low-income customers, families are eligible to receive 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service.
  • Duquense Light Waiving Late Fees through May 1

Employment and job support:

  • Unemployment Compensation: If you are unable to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can apply for unemployment compensation. If your employer temporarily closes, reduces your hours, or if you have been told to self-isolate, Pennsylvania is waiting the Work Search and Work Registration requirements and suspending the one-week waiting period. Apply online.
  • Virtual Tip Jar for Service Workers: A team from Carnegie Mellon University has launched a Virtual Tip Jar so Pittsburghers can support their favorite coffee shop, restaurant, bar, and other service workers that may be out of work.
  • GPAC Emergency Fund for Artists: The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s Emergency Fund for Artists provides up to $500 in assistance to artists experiencing a loss of income due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • National Resources for Artists: The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council has compiled a list of national resources for artists, including grants and emergency funds.
  • PGH Artists Emergency Fund: This fundraiser is hosted by a group of artists and community organizers based in Pittsburgh responding to the urgent need of our friends and community who have been put in compromised positions due to the cancellation of entire tours, all of their gigs, and jobs in the nightlife and events industry.
  • Restaurant and Food Service Emergency Fund: The crowdfunding campaign is to raise emergency funds for employees in the service industry.
    • Each approved grant is $500, one per person only
    • Eligibility Requirements: Grants will be awarded on a first-come first-served basis to those individuals who meet the prescribed eligibility criteria, as reviewed and verified by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). Subject to the availability of funds contributed to the Fund, a one-time grant of $500 will be disbursed directly to the applicant following NRAEF’s review and confirmation that their submitted application meets the prescribed guidelines. Awards will be limited to one grant per person.

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Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA
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90.5 WESA

Small business support:

  • Allegheny County Health Department Guidelines for Food Facilities: Read up on safety precautions and instructions to take while operating your restaurant through takeout or delivery service.
  • University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center Consulting & Financial Resources: SBDC Business Consultants are available for individual meetings by phone or real-time video conferencing on multiple platforms. Questions they are able to assist with include applying for loans and grants, taxes, unemployment compensation, and more. 
  • Paycheck Protection Program: Passed on March 27, 2020, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act has allotted $350 billion in emergency loans to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19 through the Paycheck Protection Program. The new initiative will offer federally guaranteed loans at a low-interest rate, much of which can also be forgivable. Through the Paycheck Protection Program, your business can apply to borrow up to 2.5 times your average monthly payroll costs in 2019, up to $10 million.
  • Urban Redevelopment Authority COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Loan Program: Eligibility for this loan program is limited to existing businesses within the City of Pittsburgh that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Eligible use of funds include: rent, insurance, payroll, and other fixed assets. Loans of up to $15,000 can be requested.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration COVID-19 Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources: Learn more about the federal government’s guidance for businesses and employers, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, access to capital, and local assistance offices. The U.S. Small Business Administration is directing businesses to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). The SBA can provide loans to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses along with low interest rates. Apply here.
  • Kiva Pittsburgh Small Business Microloans: Kiva Pittsburgh offers small business owners microloans of up to $10,000 with zero percent interest with repayment periods of up to three years.

Health and family support:

  • Per Allegheny County, individuals who may be experiencing fear, anxiety, or stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to speak with someone to assist in emotional support:
    • Peer Support and Advocacy Network (PSAN)
      10:00 a.m. – midnight
      1-866-661-WARM (9726)
    • Resolve Crisis Services
      1-888-796-8226
  • Humane Animal Rescue’s Pet Helpline
  • RESOLVE: Mental health services, free to all Allegheny County residents. Call 1-888-796-8226, 24 hours a day, every day.
  • JFCS Counseling Services: If you are in need of counseling services, you can call 412-904-5960 and leave a message. Our team will get back to you as soon as possible
  • Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh: Help is available at the 24 Hour Hotline: 877-338-8255
  • Crisis Center North; 24 Hour CCN Hotline: 412-364-5556 | 24 Hour Toll Free Hotline: 866-782-0911
  • Alle-Kiski Area Hope Center- Tarentum; 24 Hour Hotline: 724-224-1266 | 24 Hour Toll Free Hotline: 888-299-4673
  • Center for Victims; 24 Hour Toll Free Hotline: 866-644-2882
  • All PA Domestic Violence Programs - please call (if able) to see if services are altered during the pandemic
  • PAAR (Pittsburgh Action Against Rape): The office is closed but you can still access resources for sexual assault and violence at the helpline: 1-866-363-7273.
  • Immigrants and refugees can contact the JFCS Refugee & Immigrant Services and Immigrant Services & Connections (ISAC) for help understanding the situation, connect with services or providers. Contact ISAC at 412-742-4200 or email isac@jfcspgh.org. If an immigrant or refugee is in crisis, call 412-422-7200 or emailed to refugee@jfcspgh.org
  • You can find the overdose reversal drug NARCAN at these pharmacies without a prescription
  • Visit UPMCAHN and Central Outreach Wellness Center for more information on their testing sites and policies.
  • For people in recovery: Alcoholics Anonymous is offering virtual meetings online. Narcotics Anonymous is doing the same. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a hotline — 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
  • Seniors who are feeling lonely and isolated can stay connected with weekly, confidential phone calls through the South Hills Interfaith Movement’s CheckMates program. Call 412-854-9120, ext. 116, to enroll or for more info.

Food aid:

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