Massachusetts COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Resources
Because of the ongoing public health situation, all offices of the North Atlantic States Regional Council, affiliated local unions and benefit fund offices will be closed to walk-in service. Staff will be working remotely and available by phone, email, social media or other channels. Members are asked to pay dues online or by mail.
Construction workers are exempt from Massachusetts’ stay-at-home order. Construction sites in Boston are still closed. As always, if you do not feel safe on your jobsite, talk to your steward or call your agent!
NeighborWorks Housing Solutions
On March 25th, Governor Baker announced new funding under the Residential Assistance to Families in Transition (RAFT) program. This special program targets homeowners and renters in Massachusetts facing instability as a result of a COVID-19 (Coronavirus) related housing crisis due to a loss of wages or increase in expenses by assisting with mortgage payments, rent, utility bills, and other costs. Visit www.nhsmass.org to learn more or apply.
This program is available to those living in the following cities and towns:
U.S. residents with a valid social security number will automatically receive a payment from the government of up to $1200 per adult and $500 per child. Single adults whose adjusted gross income is less than $75,000 or married couples making $150,000 will receive the full amount. The income limits go up depending on how many children you have. If you make more than that, the amount of the check begins to reduce.
If you’ve already filed 2019 taxes, you will automatically receive your payment via direct deposit or check. If you have not, you will likely receive a check in the mail based on your 2018 tax return. The Treasury Department has a goal of sending out checks the week of April 6.
Borrowers with federally-backed mortgages (FHA, VA) or mortgages purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may be able to suspend mortgage payments for an initial 180 days (and possibly get a subsequent 180-day extension) without accruing additional fees or interest by attesting they are having financial hardship due to the coronavirus. Reach out to your mortgage lender – not FHA or the VA – to work this out.
This new law temporarily waives the 10% IRS penalty for accessing some retirement plans, including 401Ks and annuity plans. If members are facing hardship, they will not be penalized by the IRS for dipping into these plans. Coronavirus-impacted individuals with retirement plan loans due by December 31, 2020 will have an extra year to repay them. As of now, the rules to take a loan or withdraw from your annuity have not changed.
Call your rep or Ben Branchaud at (401) 787-2833 if you have questions about these programs or the new unemployment or sick leave guidelines.
Outbreak General Info
If you are laid off or your work site closes, you should apply for unemployment benefits as soon
as possible. The seven-day waiting period for benefits has been waived.
Please continue to call the hall and let them know that you have been laid off and to add yourself to the out-of-work list.
Soon, laid off workers will receive an increase of $600 per week, regardless of how much they would normally receive, in their benefits. This could last for up to four months, but not past July 31. This increase will be included automatically in state unemployment payments.
Members will be eligible to receive unemployment for an additional 13 weeks before it is exhausted until the end of 2020.
Per the current guidance from the state, people who have questions about what to do regarding health concerns should contact their physician before going to the doctor’s office or hospital to be tested or treated. They should call 9-1-1 if they have a life-threatening medical emergency
The state’s 2-1-1 number is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day to answer many questions and provide guidance. Most cities are now setting up similar help numbers that will include local help like food, shelter, health care access information, ect. We will be working to track these in the days ahead.