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Over 35 million people are currently unemployed, and businesses continue to face challenges as they determine if and how to reopen. With COVID-19 rates on the rise in some locations, and on the decline in others, the road ahead seems long and uncertain. Whether you have lost your job, or are trying to keep your business afloat, these resources can help:

Unemployment Insurance

Through the CARES Act, the federal government has allocated an additional $600 per week for individuals that are unemployed due to the pandemic. It also extends the option for unemployment compensation to independent contractors and freelance workers who are ordinarily ineligible for benefits. As of now, these benefits are available through July 31st, 2020, though they may be extended if unemployment rates remain high.

If you are having a difficult time reaching your state’s unemployment office via phone or online, states recommend visiting their websites between 10 PM and 8 AM, when traffic is minimal. Once your information is submitted, waiting periods have been lifted, and payment should be deposited within 3-4 weeks time. Typically, states require those who are unemployed to actively search for new work, but with various furloughs in place, those mandates have been lifted.

Stimulus Checks

Over 130 million Americans should have received payments of $1200 (and an additional $500 per dependent) if they make less than $75K per year (individual), and  $198K per year (married, filing jointly). If you have not received this payment, or are unsure if you qualify, the IRS has set up a website to help you locate your payment, as well as answer any questions you may have.

There have been discussions about another round of stimulus payments, with legislation currently in the works to provide individuals and families making less than $120K per year $1200 per person (adult and child – up to 3), at a maximum of $6K. There have also been talks of a payroll tax elimination, which would benefit both employers and employees by getting rid of the amounts withheld for Medicare and Social Security for the rest of the year. Regardless of which is passed, it is safe to say that additional assistance will be provided to American families (and businesses) in the near future.

Food Assistance

Schools across the country are providing children under 17 with free lunch each day at various sites, regardless if the child(ren) attends school there or qualifies for the free lunch program during the regular school year. Other charitable organizations and food banks have been distributing meals through local food pantries as well, helping individuals make ends meet while they are unable to work.

With an influx of people needing assistance, organizations have been receiving more donations than their facilities can handle. They have taken to renting self-storage units to keep donations short-term, transporting them to distribution sites each day. Some self-storage facilities have even decided to serve as “drop off centers” so that members of the community can drop off food, saving organizations the hassle of having to transport items back and forth to pantries.

Federal Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration has made loans available for small businesses (with less than 500 employees) on a first come, first serve basis. These loans have been replenished through the next wave of stimulus payments, and are expected to continue to be funded as more stimulus bills are passed. Some of these loans can be forgiven, providing employers use them to continue to keep staff on payroll.

For medium sized businesses (500 – 15,000 employees) a Main Street Lending Program is being developed, which will provide loans to businesses that were in sound financial condition prior to  COVID-19. Interest rates will be low, and payments will be deferred for one year.

Storage Options

Even though some businesses are now permitted to reopen, closures and restrictions have impacted their ability to operate at full capacity. Many have decided to downsize their locations, or close their doors entirely, as they determine next steps. By renting self-storage, small to medium sized businesses have been able to securely store excess inventory, manage shipping and receiving, and keep their assets.

In addition to serving as a resource for small businesses and non-profit organizations, storage facilities have helped college students and families store their possessions as campuses closed down and real estate transactions halted. Since facilities have been offering specials on storage units (35-50% off each month, or the first 1-3 months free), the financial impact has been minimal.

Temporary Work

There are temporary employment options available due to the pandemic; however, before accepting any temporary positions, it is important to check with your local unemployment office to determine how your benefits may be impacted. The SBA is hiring temporary employees across the country to work remotely, and states are hiring contact tracers. Grocery stores, delivery services, and healthcare agencies are also hiring workers in response to the pandemic, with positions posted on their websites daily.

Remember, this season, though unprecedented, it is only temporary. And, if you need to talk with someone, there are various programs available at little to no cost, with mental health professionals donating their time to help people across the country get through this.

In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Choose happiness. For this too shall pass.