The COVID-19 crisis is creating financial hardship for many residents, whether from lost income, mounting debts, or a lack of emergency cash. However, the government and banks are working to create options to help you stay afloat. Learn more about these options below.
Note: Information changes rapidly. We will do our best to keep this page up to date.
If you are at risk of losing your rental housing, you can apply to the City of Boston’s Rental Relief Fund. This fund is reserved for residents who are not eligible for extended federal unemployment benefits and who do not have access to savings or other resources to maintain their rent payments.
The RAFT program provides similar emergency assistance to families who face eviction, foreclosure, loss of utilities, or other threat to housing during the COVID-19 crisis. You can apply for RAFT funding here.
Twelve of Boston’s largest mortgage lenders have agreed to defer (put off) at least three months of mortgage payments for homeowners who can show that they have been financially affected by the COVID-19 crisis. These lenders also agree not to charge late fees, or report non-payments to the credit bureaus.
The twelve lenders are: Bank of America, Boston Private, Cambridge Trust Company, Century Bank, Citizens Bank, City of Boston Credit Union, Dedham Savings Bank, Eastern Bank, Mortgage Network, Inc., Prime Lending, Salem Five Bank, and Santander Bank.
If your lender is not listed above, you should still contact them directly to ask for a deferral or forbearance (a pause on payments) during this time. Many lenders are trying to be flexible during the crisis.
Most banks offer some kind of remote banking service, whether online banking, a banking app for your phone, or ATM access. If you would like to open a new account, Bank On Boston has identified accounts that can be opened online and that also meet Bank On standards for affordability, safety and access. Call 617-918-5279 to learn more about opening one of these accounts.
Several financial institutions are adjusting their normal policies during the COVID-19 crisis. Contact your financial institution directly to share your needs. They may be able to:
- Forgive overdraft fees, non-sufficient funds fees, or monthly account maintenance fees
- Forgive out-of-network ATM fees
- Forgive penalties for early CD withdrawals up to $50,000
- Place a temporary pause on credit card or loan payments
- Increase limits to ATM deposits and withdrawals
When speaking with your financial institution, remember to be patient and kind. Their calling centers are likely overwhelmed right now. If they say “no” to your request, you can ask for a second review.
During the COVID-19 crisis, debt collectors may NOT:
- file a new lawsuit against you
- visit, or threaten to visit, your home or workplace
- repossess your car
- garnish your wages or other property
- make unsolicited calls
If a debt collector breaks these new rules, please call 617-727-8400 or file a complaint online to report them to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.
U.S. Department of Education (DOE) Loans
Common examples of DOE-held loans are Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans.
If you have a loan held by the DOE, you can request an administrative forbearance (a pause on payments) for a period of at least 60 days, starting March 13, 2020. To request a forbearance, you should contact your loan servicer directly. If you do not know who your servicer is or how to contact them, visit StudentAid.gov/login or call 1-800-433-3243. If you were delinquent (past-due) on your loan payments as of March 13 or become delinquent after that, you will receive automatic administrative forbearance.
Additionally, all DOE-held loans will stop accumulating interest during the 60-day period starting on March 13.
You may have a loan that is not held by the U.S. DOE and is held instead by a bank or school. If you’re not sure who holds your loan, look for the most recent communication from the organization that sends you bills for loan payments. Contact your loan provider directly to ask about options for reducing or pausing your loan payments.
If you have a privately-held Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) or Perkins loan: Consolidating your private loans into the Direct Loan Program *may* make you eligible for the 60-day pause on payments, but there are important trade-offs to consider. Alternatively, you can still pause payments through an economic hardship deferment or disaster forbearance. Contact your loan servicer directly to determine your options.
Whatever type of student loan you have, the Attorney General’s Student Loan Assistance Unit can help you figure out your payment options. Just submit a Student Loan Help Request or call the Student Loan Helpline at 1-888-830-6277.
Stimulus Cash Payments
Depending on their income, many Americans will receive $1,200 stimulus payments from the federal government to assist them through the crisis. Visit our federal stimulus payment page to learn more about who will receive payments and how.
Other Financial Assistance
Several organizations are collecting money to help people make ends meet during this difficult time. You may be eligible to apply for the following:
- Bartender Emergency Assistance Program (for bartenders)
- Behind You Emergency Fund (for food service workers)
- Coronavirus Care Fund (for home care workers, nannies, and house cleaners)
- One Fair Wage Emergency Fund (for service workers)
- Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Program (for restaurant workers)
- Union Capital Boston Fund
- United Way COVID-19 Family Support Fund
- Virtual Tip Jar Boston (for service workers)
The City of Boston has established a Small Business Relief Fund that will issue a limited number of grants to businesses with fewer than 35 employees and less than $1.5 million in annual revenue. See details and apply. The City of Boston has also created a Financial Relief Handbook and FAQ document for small businesses.
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a number of different loans and debt relief options to small businesses during this time. Learn more about these relief options. Some financial institutions are also creating small business loan funds during the crisis, or deferring payments on current loans. Contact your financial institution directly to see if you may qualify. Find additional resources for small businesses here.
The federal and state tax filing deadlines have been extended to July 15. The deadline for the City of Boston’s property tax bills has been extended to June 1.
The Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment offers free financial coaching to help residents figure out how to get ahead – or stay afloat – with the money they have. The Center currently offers coaching remotely. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-541-2670 to be connected with a financial coach.
Unfortunately, some people will use the COVID-19 crisis to try to take advantage of others. Be cautious of scammers promoting fake products, charities, or treatments. If you believe you have been targeted by a scammer, you can file a report with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Learn more about common scams.