Special thanks to Haley Carstensen for creating and leading this important effort
In addition to the threat it poses to the health of Americans, COVID-19 is also causing extreme financial hardships. It seems that every morning, we wake up to a news alert notifying us of the latest swings in the stock market. When friends and family have reached out expressing concern, I tell them I saw a great quote on Twitter: “Your 401k is like your face, don’t touch it.”
But as we know, only half of Americans have 401k’s, and only roughly 55% are invested in the stock market. For most Americans, the systemic shock to our financial system extends beyond fluctuations in their stock portfolios — it’s hitting Main Street and threatening the livelihood of consumers and small-business owners. 40% of Americans have less than $400 in savings; COVID-19 is exacerbating pre-existing levels of financial instability and distress.
We’ve assembled the following guide for individuals, families, and small businesses that are facing serious threats to their financial health. This is by no means an exhaustive list of resources, and if any of you readers know of others we should include, please submit them to email@example.com and we will review and update this list in real-time.
For individuals looking to access a loan or open a new credit card to cover short-term cash needs:
- Take the CARES Act Quiz to see what relief you qualify for.
- A consortium of philanthropies led by the Ford Foundation have established a fund to support low-wage workers hit hardest by COVID-19 — “the fund will facilitate direct cash grants and loans to individuals, with a focus on those who are most likely to be left out of the government’s emergency policy response — especially workers and families who are reeling from layoffs, temporary business and school shutdowns, and caretaking duties.”
- In connection with Propel (referenced below), Give Directly is a non-profit that’s giving $1,000 to families impacted by COVID-19 in the US.
- Many banks and lenders have established new policies to support individuals seeking relief through COVID-19, search to see what offers your bank has set up.
- Petal offers a starter credit card with cash back rewards, considers people with a thin credit history, and holds the potential for a low interest rate compared with what borrowers might get from other cards meant for building credit.
- LendingUSA helps consumers get easy and affordable financing.
If you’re looking for assistance finding food and paying essential bills:
- Apply for food stamps programs like SNAP.
- Propel helps people manage benefits like SNAP.
- Stacey Abrams and Andrew Yang have launched “Project 100” — a new campaign to provide $1,000 in direct cash payments to 100,000 families receiving SNAP benefits.
- Look up local food banks near you:
- 211.org put together a comprehensive list of available resources for the following: Health insurance & medical expenses, Home Internet access, Unemployment benefits, Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Mortgage, rent, and utilities payment assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Food Stamps, Food Assistance, Relief for “gig economy” workers and contractors, Mental health and crisis.
If you’re paying down existing credit card or other debt balances:
- Reach out to debt settlement companies to see if you qualify for debt relief, consolidation, or settlement.
- Reach out to a credit counselor like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling — a nonprofit that has worked with millions of Americans and has prepared a specific response to COVID-19.
If you need to pull your latest credit score:
- You can pull your credit report for free from different reporting bureaus:
- Credit Karma also provides free credit reporting by integrating TransUnion and Equifax data.
- If you check your own credit score, it won’t hurt it; but if a lender or creditor checks it, it may have an adverse impact.
- For immigrants with limited credit history in the US, Nova Credit uses your international credit history to help you apply for products including credit cards, apartment rentals, and loans.
For workers who have been let go from their job or furloughed:
- Coursera has made 3,800 courses and 400 specializations available for free through government agencies hoping to find jobs for residents.
- If you’re unable to work because of COVID-19, search for the unemployment compensation benefits offered by the state you live in.
- Other government benefits for COVID-19 are listed here.
- Disability, Workers Comp & Family Leave is available for people who contract COVID-19 or are caring for a sick family member — search for benefits offered by the state you live in.
- The latest $2 trillion rescue package proposed by Senate leaders will provide unemployment benefits (as well as paid sick leave, food and medical aid) to those affected by the pandemic.
- *Updated FAQ* The coronavirus stimilus package will cover self-employed and part-time employees, and benefit amounts will be calculated based on previous income (typically 40–45% of income for full-time workers).
If you’re looking for part time employment opportunities (keeping in mind applicable shelter-in-place policies in your community):
- Switch sends laid-off talent to top startups looking to hire.
- Urspace lets you connect with recruiters 1:1 and see open jobs amidst COVID-19.
- Corona Tasks is a curated list of websites where individuals can earn “easy money” while quarantined.
- Walmart, Amazon, and Domino’s are all hiring for part-time jobs amid the COVID crisis.
- Instacart is also hiring as demand for delivery is surging.
- CVS is also planning to hire 50,000 people.
- You could check other part-time job listing sites: https://www.snagajob.com/c/part-time-jobs/
If you have student debt:
- The U.S. Department of Education has granted a payment waiver of at least 60 days to many people — you need to call your loan servicer to request a waiver and see if your loan is eligible (not applicable for private student loans).
- More detail on this program and if you qualify can be found here.
- If you’re at risk of missing a payment, you could try calling your lender to see if you can negotiate a deferment or temporary decrease in payment.
- Many lenders incorporate forbearance agreements, see if you qualify.
- To the extent you can call them ahead of missing a payment, try to do so.
If you’re currently a student, there are companies that provide students with emergency cash advances:
For individuals looking to change careers to increase future earning potential, you could check out:
- Guild Education aims to unlock opportunity for America’s workforce through education, helping individuals access their employers’ tuition benefits.
- TradeUp finances education while individuals train for new careers; the company issues income share agreements instead of loans so a student doesn’t repay until they secure a job.
- Meritize can help individuals trying to figure out career options that fit their goals; in addition, they may be able to provide financing for those options.
Resources for homeowners/renters:
- The Federal Reserve recently lowered interest rates — look into refinancing your mortgage at a lower rate.
- The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) also offers loans for first-time homebuyers — buyers can qualify for FHA loans with a FICO credit score of at least 500.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) 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.
- You can work with a housing counselor through the HUD.
- You can also work with the HUD for rental assistance.
- Landed is a down payment support real estate company, working with essential professionals (i.e. educators) to help them build financial security and acquire homes.
Resources for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses:
- The CARES Act includes $350B for a federal small business loan protection program called the Paycheck Protection Program and small business loans will be available starting Friday 4/3 — up to date FAQ found here.
- As part of the $2.2T relief bill passed by Congress (also known as the CARES Act), the main sources of relief to employers come in the form of tax relief (i.e. deferral) and loans.
- ** The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship prepared a Small Business Owners’ Guide to the CARES Act **
- ** The Treasury released an FAQ about the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans.
- Take the CARES Act Quiz to see what relief your small business qualifies for.
- Fundera allows SMB-owners to apply for a loan and compare offers between different lenders.
- The Federal Reserve is relaunching its primary dealer credit facility to make low-cost loans to financial institutions who will in turn be able to make loans to small- and medium-sized businesses (“SMBs”), contact your local bank to see if they’re participating in this program.
- In addition to support for individual borrowers, LendingUSA is also providing loans to merchants in need of liquidity.
- Bumble and Spanx founder Sara Blakely’s foundation are distributing grants to women-led businesses.
- Facebook is offering $100m in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses.
- The nonprofit Candid is also offering grants to SMBs.
- CASE at Duke Fuqua School of Business put together a guide of capital relief sources for entrepreneurs.
- Financial assistance guide for startups
- Costarters has put together a recovery guide for small businesses to “reimagine and rebuild”.
- The US Small Business Administration (“SBA”) has rolled out multiple initiatives to support small businesses:
Economic Injury & Disaster Relief Program — small business owners in the following designated states are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19): Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia
SBA has developed Lender Match, a free online referral tool that connects small businesses with participating SBA-approved lenders within 48 hours.
7(a) program offers loan amounts up to $5,000,000 and is an all-inclusive loan program deployed by lending partners for eligible small businesses within the U.S. States and its territories. The uses of proceeds include: working capital; expansion/renovation; new construction; purchase of land or buildings; purchase of equipment, fixtures; lease-hold improvements; refinancing debt for compelling reasons; seasonal line of credit; inventory; or starting a business.
Express loan program provides loans up to $350,000 for no more than 7 years with an option to revolve. There is a turnaround time of 36 hours for approval or denial of a completed application. The uses of proceeds are the same as the standard 7(a) loan.
Community Advantage loan pilot program allows mission-based lenders to assist small businesses in underserved markets with a maximum loan size of $250,000. The uses of proceeds are the same as the standard 7(a) loan.
504 loan program is designed to foster economic development and job creation and/or retention. The eligible use of proceeds is limited to the acquisition or eligible refinance of fixed assets.
Microloan program involves making loans through nonprofit lending organizations to underserved markets. Authorized use of loan proceeds includes working capital, supplies, machinery & equipment, and fixtures (does not include real estate). The maximum loan amount is $50,000 with the average loan size of $14,000.
Other SBA COVID-specific programs can be found here.
If you’re looking for ways to help your community, you can:
- Donate to a Food Bank (links above).
- Buy gift cards for your local restaurants.
- Support COVID-19 fundraisers on GoFundMe.
- Donate to United Way Worldwide’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund.
- Search for charitable giving drives on Twitter.
If you’re looking to improve your own financial literacy, you can:
- Take a personal finance course on Udemy or Coursera.
- Download games or apps that help you learn core financial concepts.
i80 Group’s mission: At i80 group, we invest in companies that promote financial inclusion and leverage technology in order to increase access to financial products and services. We see natural alignment for these companies between outsized financial performance and positive measured social impact. We seek to serve as a thought partner to these early stage companies to track impact data in addition to financial data in order to prove a company’s social impact thesis. i80 Group and its affiliates may have an interest in some of the companies referenced in this presentation.