The covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly affected us all, and RESPOND knows how overwhelming this time has been for individuals and families alike. While the official state of emergency has ended, the pandemic is not over.
We also know that it has not impacted each of us in the same ways. Below, we have compiled an online community resource guide in response to FAQs we have heard from our clients and staff.
- In Somerville or Cambridge:
- Mystic Valley Elder Services
- Click here to apply for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), TAFDC (Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children) or EAEDC (Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children). You will want to have birthdates for all family members, social security numbers, household income and household expense information.
- If you are already receiving benefits, you can find updated, covid-19 related information here.
- For information on food access for children, elders, food pantries and farmers markets in Somerville, Cambridge and Medford:
- For information on food access and food resources in Somerville, visit the Somerville Food Security Coalition website here. Check for monthly updates.
- Come to the Table, a free community meal (take out only during pandemic) expanding to twice a month: 2nd and 4th Wed of the month, 5-7pm. Location-Connexion, 149 Broadway, East Somerville. Take home a hot meal & a bag of groceries. Sponsored by the Somerville Food Security Coalition, supported by the Somerville Homeless Coalition and the Somerville Health Foundation.
- For additional information on food resources in the local area, visit the CHA Covid-19 Emergency Food Resources List here.
- A food resource from the Boston Center for Independent Living, organized by town, is available here.
- During the current state of emergency there is a moratorium on shutting off utilities. If you require assistance affording heating resources are below as well as resources if your utilities are shut off.
- Massachusetts Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Participants receive assistance with their heating costs between November 1 and April 30.
- City of Somerville Program
- (617) 349-6252 ext 02139
- Massachusetts Fuel Assistance Program
- Cambridge and Somerville fuel assistance program
- HEATWAP program for homeowners on heat assistance, provides low cost heating repairs
- Help with regulations and utility shut-off protection through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- Eversource’s covid-19 changes and help
- National Grid’s covid-19 Changes and help
- RESPOND’s Housing Program can assist with a referral to the furniture bank. Please call the Support Line to schedule an appointment at 617-623-5900.
- Furnishing Hope provides families with the furniture, household goods, moving and set up services necessary to create a comfortable and nurturing environment from which to make a new start.
- Please call RESPOND for a referral to Fresh Start Furniture Bank
- Or call RESPOND for a referral to Household Goods
- Contact the Mission of Deeds
Housing Assistance (see also: Other Legal)
- RESPOND’s Housing Program can assist you in applying for affordable housing, financial assistance, staying in your home safely and finding an apartment. To make an appointment, call the RESPOND Support Line at 617-623-5900.
- Massachusetts Legal Resource Finder
- Mass Legal Help
- HUD VAWA forms
- Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program (ERMA): State program for low income families strained by covid-19 who don’t qualify for RAFT funds.
- Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT): State program for clients at or below 50% AMI get priority. You may also apply if you are up to 80% AMI. There is a maximum benefit of $4,000 for moving, rental arrears, or utilities. This is one-time assistance.
- CEOC (Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee) services include:
- Reasonable accommodation requests, applications for all affordable subsidized housing, Cambridge Housing Authority grievance & conference panels, eviction prevention, homeless shelter referral, resolving issues with another tenant or a property manager or landlord, hoarding or housekeeping issues, legal services referral, rent arrearages, rent re-certification, sanitary code violations reporting, Section 8 applications, tenant’s rights education and advocacy, transfer requests, utility assistance, housing search, mediation assistance, court attendance.
- CAAS HAP (Community Action Agency of Somerville Housing Action Program): serves low-income individuals at risk of homelessness in a range of services including preventing evictions, improving access to public benefits, preventing future crises. HAP serves Somerville residents with incomes up to 80% of area median income (AMI).
- Somerville Office of Housing Stability:
- Office line: 617-625-6600 ext 2581
- City Life/Vida Urbana
- Frequently asked questions for tenants on Covid-19 and rental housing, from the Somerville Office of Housing Stability.
- Tenant/Landlord Rights Guide and presentation of tenant/landlord rights during COVID-19 from the MA Attorney General’s office.
- Housing resources for folks with disabilities from the Boston Center for Independent Living available in English and in Spanish.
- The COVID Eviction Legal Help Project (CELHP) was formed to expand the capacity of legal aid organizations in Massachusetts to provide urgently needed legal assistance in COVID-related eviction cases and provide updates on laws and resources. Click for multilingual resources and information, referrals, and other assistance, such as representation, to achieve housing stability.
- A new housing guide from the City of Cambridge.
Healthcare, Testing & Vaccines
- The federal government is partnering with the US Postal Service to send four (4) free rapid antigen covid-19 test kits to every household that applies. To apply, follow this link, to share your address information. If you are having trouble accessing the adequate number of tests for your household, we may be able to help with other resources. Please contact our Support Line.
- If you are experiencing a fever 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, a cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, a loss of sense of smell or taste or have been exposed to someone asked by a medical professional to self-quarantine, please seek medical care and testing. FAQs about covid-19.
- If you are a Massachusetts resident in need of healthcare, you may qualify through MassHealth. Find out more or receive assistance with applying:
- To find a testing site:
- If you are part of the PCA (personal care attendant) program, the Boston Center for Independent Living may be able to help you access PPE (personal protective equipment) like masks and gloves. Fill out the questionnaire here. If you are a PCA, you may be able to obtain PPE through 1199SEIU here.
- I’m not sure if I am eligible to receive a vaccination.
- I don’t know if I want to be vaccinated. Where can I find information to make a decision?
- First, talk to your medical professional!
- Information from the CDC about vaccine safety.
- Great FAQ from Mass General/Brigham and Women’s about the vaccines (in English y en español — many other languages available for download here).
- We know that marginalized communities — especially Black and Indigenous ones — have disproportionately suffered from the impacts of covid-19. And we also know that the same communities may have deep distrust toward the medical establishment due to historical violence.
- Read more from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) here about emergency use authorization and more.
- Covid-19 Vaccine Communication Handbook for providers, parents, teachers, policy makers, and more.
- This video from Boston Medical Center breaks down information about the vaccines.
Mental Health (for children, parents and caregivers, and everyone!)
The changes to our lives during covid-19 have been confusing and stressful. Below are resource for how to take care of yourself and your own mental health as well as your children and family during these difficult times.
- How do we cope with stress and anxiety that has been caused as a result of COVID-19? How can I help my child manage their anxiety regarding Covid-19? Kids learn from what they see, and modeling how you are able to keep yourself calm, can lead to your child feeling more secure.
- This resource from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives tips for managing stresses and anxiety.
- The Child Mind Institute shares these suggestions.
- The Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers this insight.
- The Columbia University Department of Psychiatry answers FAQs.
- A resource for teachers (and it’s useful for parents, too).
- Covid-19 keeps triggering my PTSD, what can I do? The University of Michigan offers these tools.
- How do I talk to my children about COVID-19?
- How can I get my children to wear a face mask to protect themselves and others?
- Where can we go, and what can we do now with all of these restrictions?
- CHA is offering Mental Health First Aid classes.
- MassSupport Network, a service of Riverside Trauma Center, is providing services to all Massachusetts residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is free, confidential and anonymous and is available for individuals (including youth), families, schools, organizations, businesses and communities. MassSupport provides emotional support, coping strategies, resources and up-to-date factual information. There is also capacity to deliver presentations and coping groups around how to support ourselves and each other during the pandemic. Some language capacity. To access MassSupport Monday through Saturday, 8am-8pm with typical responses within a few hours: leave a message at 888-215-4920 or email MassSupport@riversidecc.org. (For urgent support needs, 24/7, call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5590.)
209A Protection Orders and Restraining Orders
The process to apply for a restraining order in Massachusetts has become virtual during the pandemic in an effort to streamline hearings and protect court staff and civilians.
- There is now a free online interview tool in Massachusetts which you can use to generate a complete set of all of the court forms someone needs to file for a 209A restraining order. This MassAccess tool went live in August, and is available for use by survivors, attorneys and advocates. The project operates out of Suffolk Law’s Legal Innovation and Technology Lab.
- You can also call your local District Court Clerk’s Office during business hours (8:30am-4:30pm) to request a restraining order. The clerk may ask what kind of restraining order you are interested in obtaining:
- If the person you want the order against is of a close relationship (current partner, sibling, child, ex-boy/girlfriend, etc) you can apply for a 209A Abuse Prevention Order.
- If the person you want the order against is a stranger, or someone you only have a slight relationship with (a neighbor, a coworker, etc) then you can apply for a 258E Harassment Protection order.
- If you would like to learn more about the difference between a 209A and 258E, you can read about them both here.
- For more information on accessing restraining orders during covid-19, see this resource from Commonwealth of Massachusetts or check out further legal resources below.
Other Legal Resources (see also: Housing Assistance)
- De Novo Center for Justice and Healing: offers free legal assistance to low-income folks in the areas of housing and homelessness prevention, family law/domestic violence, immigrant and refugee rights, and disability benefits. De Novo also offers free legal services to victims of crime regardless of their income.
- Cambridge office: 617-661-1010
- Greater Boston Legal Services
- Main office: 617-371-1234
- Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services office: 617-603-2700
- Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation
- Free legal help for survivors of domestic violence through the Women’s Bar Foundation
- Mass Legal Help
- Harvard Legal Aid Bureau: 617-495-9408
Sex and Human Trafficking
- The Eva Center
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: 617-779-2133
- Call the RESPOND support line from 9AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday: (617) 623-5900
- SafeLink: Massachusetts Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline
- (877) 785-2020
- Covid-19 Resources from Casa Myrna
- DHCD Emergency shelter
- No online application. Call : (866) 584-0653
- Be a resident of Massachusetts
- Meet the gross income standards for Emergency Assistance
- Have needy children under the age of 21, or be pregnant
- No-fault fire, flood, natural disaster, condemnation, or foreclosure
- Fleeing domestic violence (current or within past 12 months)
- No-fault eviction
- Child(ren) are exposed to a substantial health and safety risk
- Mass Shelter List
- Office of Housing Stability at 617-635-4200
Wifi and Technology
- Emergency Broadband Benefit: Families and households that struggle to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic can get connected to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and more. Benefits include a $50/monthly service credit and a $100 allowance toward a computer or tablet. Only one of each benefit is available per household. Apply online or contact a local broadband service provider.
- The Somerville Public Library is now offering free 24/7 outdoor WiFi from the front lawn at their Central Library location. There are four workspaces with a table and two chairs in each, and each space as umbrellas, heaters and lights, too. You can connect with your device for free.
- Many schools are providing low-income students with computer or tablets. Check with your child’s school system to find out if they are and if you qualify.
- UPS Computer Rental Workstations: search this to find appointments for computers for rent with web access, printing and scanning capabilities.
- The On It Foundation is Florida-based, but provides free computers, computer training and Internet to low-income families with students in grades K-12 within United States.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 305.244.6454
- Computers With Cause provides gift computers to people in need. Find the application here.
- Everyoneon partners with other companies to provide affordable computers and internet access to families with an annul income less than $35,000. They also provide free trainings and courses.
- Educational resources for children from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are available here.
- Comcast’s reduced cost wifi program can be accessed here.
- MBTA Youth Pass applications are now being accepted, information to apply here or contact Jennifer Manica at email@example.com Youth are eligible for reduced fares if: live in a participating city or town (Somerville is included); are between 18 and 25 years old; are enrolled in an MBTA-approved benefits, education, or job training program (like MASSGrant, MassHealth, SNAP, or Year Up)”.
- If you live, own a business, work, or attend school in the City of Somerville and have ideas about how Somerville might spend the $77+ million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that will be allocated to the City to help with covid-19 recovery, please complete the ARPA survey tool here. More details about Somerville’s ARPA funding can be found here.
If you are a survivor and have any questions about resources available to you in your community, call our support line at (617) 623-5900 (9AM-5PM, M-F).
Have a resource to add? This is a living document and not an exhaustive list. Contact us to share resources for inclusion here.