Up-to-Date Info about Covid-19

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Note from Vivian:

Dear friends: Instead of cluttering your social media feed or email inboxes with information in an evolving situation, I have created this web page to consolidate the news and resources that may benefit you. I will try to only post information that is verified and final. If I may have misinformed you, it is unintentional.  Please keep in mind, some of these links are very specific for Texas residents. 


If you know of any other beneficial news and resources and would like me to share with others, please contact me at  vivian@khaithuehouston.com 


Check back for the most up-to-date information, and share it with individuals and/or business owner who may benefit from the support. 


I will continue to update at least once a week. I wish you health, wealth, and peace-of-mind. 


Last updated: March 21, 2020 at 7 PM

Taxes

The IRS has delayed both filing and payment deadlines of the US Federal Income Tax to July 15, 2020. Please contact us to help you file your taxes. Special pricing for those affected by the pandemic in the hospitality industry. Our flat fee is $80 for individuals who are affected by this event. Our services will be delivered online and on the phone only. We reserve the right to decline service. 

Finance

  • Should you stop contributing to your retirement saving plans? The answer depends on your retirement horizon. 
  • I often share with my group Financial Strategies for Vietnamese-Americans that the best plan we can have is to: stay calm, have an emergency fund of at least 6 months of expenses, save, reduce expenses, stay cash liquid, and exercise. I am working on a personal finance budget template for you to use. I will post the tool here. Come back to this site
  • Defer big ticket items until the storm is over
  •  Where to get Social Security help. The Social Security Administration is mostly closing its 1,200 offices for routine requests like help with benefit claims. Those requests should go through the agency’s toll-free phone line, (800) 772-1213, and its website. In-person assistance is still available for crucial services, like reinstatement of benefits and assistant for those with severe disabilities. Those seeking in-person help must call in advance.  
  • How to prep for refinancing your mortgage. Mortgage rates are low right now, and refinancing is a good way to free up cash. But that means everyone else is trying to do it, too.  
  •  Can't make a credit card or mortgage payment? Here's how to ask for help

Unemployment Benefits

To read more about this, please read my blog here . Updated on 3.21.2020. 

Free Internet or Reduced Fee Phone Services

 

  • Comcast Internet Essentials: A low-cost home internet package for qualifying individuals and households is now available for free for the first two months.
  • Access From AT&T: A low-cost home internet package for qualifying individuals and households. It is not special to COVID-19 but is available at a low cost.
  • A number of large internet companies have agreed not to terminate residential or small business customers who can’t pay their bills: AT&T, Comcast, Cox, RCN, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. A full list of companies is available on the Federal Communications Commission site. 

Relief Resources

  • Disaster Relief Unemployment Assistance: Because President Trump declared a national emergency last week, those who lose work because of the virus may qualify for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Assume that DUA is the same as help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). You must apply for FEMA assistance through FEMA, not Texas Workforce Commission.
  • Rent relief efforts in Houston is done by the Houston Apartment Association. They have instructed their more than 3,000 apartment communities in the Houston area to waive late fees and set up payment plans for those whose livelihoods have been affected by COVID-19. This is not a governmental agency. 
  • Thursday, March 19, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Texas Supreme Court halted eviction proceedings until April 19.  That means, if you cannot pay rent, your landlords cannot evict you. 
  • If you are not able to pay for your mortgage, contact your mortgage company asap.
  • Small businesses can apply for the loans at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. The SBA usually provides assistance in the field after natural disasters, but to comply with social distancing, all assistance is being moved online. The website is a bit slow. Keep trying. Remember to choose  Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)  
  • The U.S. Department of Education has granted a payment waiver of at least 60 days to many people, according to a news release. But it’s not necessarily automatic.  The waiver does not apply to private student loans. 
  • Coronavirus and Forbearance Info for Students, Borrowers, and Parents
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced a nationwide eviction and foreclosure moratorium. Many homeowners have a mortgage owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, which have suspended foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days. This includes foreclosures that are already in progress.  The order also applies to people with loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration — so-called F.H.A. loans.  Under forbearance, your loan payments are postponed (or reduced) but interest continues to accrue during the period of forbearance. If you don't pay the interest during that period, the interest may be “capitalized,” which means it is added to your principal balance 
  • Your banks may be able to help. Check out the American Bankers Association. It has a long list of banks offering resources.
  • TX parents: visit https://txschools.gov/ to find locations for free school meals (breakfast or lunch) for all your public school children. Select “Meal Pick-Up Locations” to find a school near you 

 

Private relief programs 

Private corporations around the country are also finding ways to support small businesses, either through funding or free use of their services.

  • Facebook has launched a small business grants program offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 small businesses. 
  • UberEats is waiving delivery fees for all orders from independently-owned restaurants to keep them in business as many cities begin to mandate closure of storefronts.
  • Amazon created a $5 million Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund to provide cash grants to local small businesses that will be impacted by fewer customers due to COVID-19. The fund is intended to support small businesses with fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue located near Amazon’s Seattle office weather the outbreak.
  • Google has rolled out free access to its advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all G Suite customers until July 1 so businesses can stay connected with their teams and vendors.

Free Educational Resources

Art

 

Leading Agencies and Their Websites

Stories of Trials and Tribulations

Things you can do for your community

  • Donate blood