COVID-19: Public Resources
This page will be continually updated.
- If you need assistance in Massachusetts, call 2-1-1 or visit mass211.org. Available 24/7.
- Boston residents should call 3-1-1.
Information, updates, and guidance from:
- World Health Organization
- Centers for Disease Control
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health
- Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker
- City of Boston
IMPORTANT! Getting tested or treated for COVID-19 will NOT count as a public charge for immigrants.
Please note, this information is continuously changing, so keep checking back.
- If your child is facing barriers to their education, including children with IEP and disabilities, please call Mass Advocates For Children at (617) 357-8431 ext. 3224 (English) or (617) 357-8431 ext. 3237 (Espanol), or click here for additional resources.
- Free online educational resources for parents and students, from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
- Massachusetts libraries have many e-books, audiobooks, and other resources available online.
Avoid this being a time where kids zone out on movies and TV for the whole day.
- MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: Free online educational resources for parents and students.
- Libraries: Massachusetts libraries have many e-books, audiobooks, and other resources available online.
- Children’s Museum: Boston Children’s Museum has free online learning resources.
- Audible is offering free stories for kids to stream.
- Aquarium and zoos: New England Aquarium is posting educational animal videos online, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD has a live stream of their aquariums, the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA has a live stream of their aquariums, and the San Diego, CA Zoo has live feeds and pre-recorded videos of several animals.
- Virtual tours: Museums across the world have set up free virtual museum tours, famous theater stages across the word have set up free virtual tours, the U.S. National Parks have set up free virtual ranger guided tours,
- WGBH: WGBH’s Distance Learning Center has lots of resources for students, educators, families and more. WGBH’s public TV station will also be televising educational content between noon and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Puppet shows: Joshua Smith, Student Wholeness Specialist at Baltimore Public Schools, is live-streaming social-emotional learning puppet shows on his Facebook page to help kids cope with the crisis, every weekday morning from 10-10:30am.
In addition, many e-learning companies are opening their platforms to the public:
- ABCmouse, educational activities for children ages 2-8 (use code: AOFLUNICEF)
- Adventure Academy, for older kids (code: SCHOOL7771)
- ReadingIQ, thousands of books for children 12 and under (use code: AOFLUNICEF)
- Codecademy is 10,000 offering scholarships to Codecademy Pro for free to high school and college students across the world for the rest of the school year
Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF)
- All BCYF community center pools, gyms, and fitness centers are closed, and all programming has been suspended.
- Only select centers will be open for youth meal distribution throughout the Boston Public Schools closure.
Cash Assistance and MA Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA)
- Hotline: If you are in Boston and have questions about cash benefits (TAFDC or EAEDC), SNAP, or child care, call Greater Boston Legal Services’ Welfare Law Unit at (617) 603-1806. Make sure to leave a voicemail with your name and number or you will not get a call back.
- Cash assistance (TAFDC or EAEDC): Call your local DTA office to start an application. Find your local DTA office here.
- DTA is stopping all negative cash assistance case actions (for TAFDC and EAEDC only) during the COVID-19 crisis. This means that, prospectively, no one should be terminated or reduced for any reason - including sanctions, failure to verify information, reaching the time limit, etc.
- Union Capital Boston has established a one-time direct gift campaign to send $150 Visa gift cards to those who need it urgently in the Greater Boston area. Click here to be added to the support request list and here to donate.
- See the “Additional resources” section for more emergency relief funds.
- As of 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, all child care programs in MA must be closed until April 6, and may be extended as needed.
- The MA Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is establishing a process to approve Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs that will remain open to provide care for those who have to work.
- FREE emergency childcare programs are still open. Click here for a list of these programs.
Priority access to emergency child care is being given to vulnerable children, and the children of families designated as “COVID-19 Essential Workforces,” with emphasis on those in the health care, public health, and human services and law enforcement, public safety, and first responder fields.
- Anyone with a child care subsidy now will keep their subsidy once child care centers reopen across the state.
- Click here for more information and FAQ.
- The Massachusetts Trial Courts will be closed to the public, except for emergency matters, from March 18 through April 6. Click here to learn more.
- If you have questions about a court hearing, you can call Rosie’s Place Legal Program at (617) 318-0280.
Small Claims Court
- Many eviction cases will not be heard until after April 21, 2020 in Housing Courts and May 4, 2020 in District Courts. However, some eviction cases and emergency situations will be heard before then. Click here to learn more about evictions.
- All pending Small Claims cases are postponed until no earlier than Monday, May 4, 2020. Click here to learn more about small claims and debt collection.
- Call 911 if you are in danger right now.
- If you are not in immediate danger, but still need assistance or services, you can call SafeLink at (877) 785-2020, Casa Myrna Vasquez at (800) 992-2600, or see Jane Doe's list of Massachusetts domestic violence programs here.
- Although courts are closed to non-emergency cases, Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault request are emergencies, if you need a restraining order betwen Mon-Fri, 8:30am-4:30pm call the clerk at the District Court, Boston Municipal Court, or Probate or Family court where you need to file. Click here for a list of courts serving your city or town.
- If you cannot reach someone for any reason, call your local police station and ask if they have specific instructions from the court on how to get an order, or call SafeLink at (877) 785-2020.
- Click here for additional information and legal resources for survivors.
- Hotline: MA residents can contact Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 (TTY 1-800-377-1292) or gettingsnap.org for resources in their community and help signing up for SNAP (“food stamps”), WIC (Women, Infants, & Children). Available in 160 languages and for those who are hearing impaired.
- Find food pantries and community meal programs: Click here.
Stores: Gov. Charlie Baker ordered grocery stores and pharmacies to provide at least one hour a day of shopping time for adults over 60 years old. Some have designated more than one hour. Check your local store’s websites for details.
- Many grocery stores are setting aside specific hours for seniors and other at-risk community members. Click here for details.
SNAP (food stamps)
- If you want to check your SNAP eligibility you can use the MA Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) SNAP Screening Tool here. Click here for an online SNAP application.
- If you lost your job or work hours because of COVID-19, you can apply for SNAP at any time. You do not have to wait to file an application.
- DTA requires applicants to provide the “best available proof” for verifications during application for all benefits. DTA recognizes that some documents might not be available at this time. A self-declaration letter might be the best available document to provide and is acceptable.
- SNAP recipients who are due to recertifyre-certify will have their benefits extended for 6 months. No one receiving benefits will lose their benefits during this time.
- New SNAP recipients will receive their EBT card by mail only and it may take 5-10 days to receive your new card. People experiencing homelessness can use a shelter address to receive their card.
- The SNAP work requirement rule for adults without dependents has been suspended.
- Reminder: households can give permission to friends, family, or other trusted people to use their EBT card on their behalf, with no need for formal documentation or written paperwork. This may be helpful for seniors, persons with disabilities, and other populations who are particularly vulnerable and at risk from COVID-19, and who may need to ask others to go shopping on their behalf.
- Expensify.org is matching SNAP grocery purchases up to $50 per family.
- Click here for more info.
Healthy Incentives Program (HIP)
- If you receive SNAP you are automatically enrolled in HIP.
- You can use your SNAP benefits to buy fruits and vegetables from a HIP authorized farm or vendor and you will receive $1 for each dollar you spend on eligible fruits and vegetables, up to a monthly limit to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from Farmers' markets, Farm stands, Mobile markets, Community supported agriculture (CSA) farm share programs.
- Click here to learn more about this food access program.
- Click here to find a HIP vendor closest to you.
- If you have any additional questions around HIP, need assistance finding a vendor, or have issues or concerns, contact the Project Bread hotline at (800) 645-8333.
WIC (Women, Infants, & Children)
- All WIC Programs are providing all services by phone: (800) 942-1007. Hours are Monday-Friday 9 a.m.–5 p.m. If you hear a recording, leave a message with your name and telephone number.
- You can apply for WIC online here. Find an online list of WIC vendors here and a map here. You can also download the WICShopper App with online resources and tools.
- People who use WIC should plan to arrive at the grocery store first thing in the morning before things are cleared out for the day. You can call the store and find out what days they are restocking certain items.
- Contact your local WIC office with any questions about breastfeeding, nutrition or shopping.
- Click here for more information and updates.
Health care and COVID-19 testing
- If you have MassHealth, you’re FULLY COVERED for COVID-19 testing and treatment.
- If you’re uninsured, you can apply through April 25 for MassHealth or Connector plans.
- DO NOT avoid testing or treatment for lack of coverage!
- The MA Department of Public Health has ordered all insurers to cover medically necessary telehealth services as they cover in-person services. Insurers must not require cost-sharing of any kind – such as co-pays and coinsurance. Read the full order here.
- MassHealth patients are able to pick up 90-day prescription refills. There will also be leniency around picking up the prescription early.
- Click here for more information.
- Families can continue to apply for Emergency Assistance Family Shelter through the state of MA by calling (866) 584-0653. If you have questions or need further assistance, contact DHCD Constituent Services at (617) 573-1377. Click here for more information.
- For single individuals seeking shelter, you can find a list of shelters here, or contact Rosie’s Place Advocacy Helpline at (617) 318-0236.
- A new special fund under the RAFT (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition) program has been set up for eligible households (families and individuals) who may face eviction, foreclosure, loss of utilities, and other housing emergencies. Click here for info.
- People living with subsidized housing/public housing/vouchers who have lost income or jobs should contact their rental manager. This may be difficult as offices are closed; keep a log if you cannot reach anyone. Keep pay stubs, layoff notices, etc. These will be essential in obtaining rent adjustments.
- Anyone living in BHA public housing must see their property manager to report income changes.
- Boston Mayor Marty Walsh along with several major landlords and real estate groups in Boston have agreed to halt most evictions during the coronavirus emergency. Click here for more information.
- If you have questions or concerns regarding evictions, see the Courts section.
Housing in Boston
BHA is limiting in-person contact, but continues to be available on-site and by phone and email. Click here for more information.
BHA has postponed evictions unrelated to public health or safety until further notice.
For help with rental assistance and arrears, contact the Office of Housing Stability at (617) 635-4200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Metro Housing Boston & Vouchers
Though they are not accepting general calls until at least April 7, Housing Supports is taking requests for help via ResourceLine@metrohousingboston.org.
RAFT pre-applications may still be submitted online here. All applications will be processed electronically.
Click here for more information about services offered through Metro Housing Boston.
DHCD is temporarily suspending terminations of federal and state rental vouchers, including assistance provided under the Section 8, Massachusetts Rental Voucher and Alternative Housing Voucher programs, in cases not involving violent or drug-related criminal activity that seriously affects the health and safety of other residents.
Rental housing leasing/showing
- Click here for guidance from EMPath's housing attorney.
For all immigrants
- Getting tested or treated for COVID-19 will NOT count as a public charge for immigrants.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices are currently closed to the public. Click here for information on their COVID-19 response and for resources if you have a pending case.
- For women seeking immigration advice, contact the Rosie’s Place Legal Program at (617) 318-0280.
- For immigrants without access to benefits (Undocumented, TPS, DACA, etc...) such as SNAP, unemployment, disability, and cash assistance, click here for a list of assistance in your neighborhood. and call 211 to ask for information on the United Way’s COVID-19 Family Support Fund.
- The Mass. Law Reform Institute is maintaining a list of all important and relevant immigration updates. Click here to learn more about immigration during COVID-19.
- Click here for resources from MIRA Coalition in multiple languages
Internet and phone service
Low cost internet
- Comcast is providing 60 free days of WiFi for NEW Internet Essentials customers who apply by April 30 and are approved. After the promotion, regular rates apply. (Internet Essentials current rate is $9.95 per month plus tax unless you disconnect your service.).They have also temporarily increased internet speeds for Internet Essentials customers at no cost and are taking other measures in response to COVID-19. Click here for more information.
- Click here for more free and low-cost internet programs.
Low cost phone
- Certain low-income or specific program recipients in Massachusetts are eligible for a low-cost phone. Click here for eligibility criteria for the Lifeline Program.
- For those eligible, you can apply online here, just follow the instructions on the “How to apply” section. Or, you can apply by following the following instructions
- Click here to find and choose a Lifeline provider in your area.
- Contact the service provider and request a Lifeline application
- Submit all the required materials. Click here for a list of qualifying documents, and click here for a list of acceptable proof of income.
- Click here to learn more.
- All Boston Public Library locations are closed and all events have been cancelled.
- Most municipal libraries have closed or modified services. Contact your local library for more information. Click here for an updated list of library closings and service changes.
- Massachusetts Libraries have many e-books, audiobooks, and other resources available online. Click here for more information.
- The IRS has moved the deadline to file and pay federal taxes to July 15. More info here.
- Massachusetts has moved its tax filing’ deadline to July 15. More info here.
How Do I Manage My Finances During COVID-19?
From EMPath’s Financial Specialist
Communication is key
- The most important advice in managing debt during ANY financial hardship is regular communication with your financial institution such as your bank, creditor, or student loan servicer.
- Always alert your financial institution immediately when you are beginning to experience financial hardship and inquire about options they can provide such as lower interest payments, changing the bill due date, temporary relief, etc.
- It is understandable that taking the time to call and have those conversations can be difficult emotionally. Keep in mind that financial hardships often happen at no fault of your own. Speaking with your bank as soon as possible can save you money in the long-run, such as reduced interest payments or preventing a debt to go into collections.
- Be prepared to explain your situation to your bank/creditor. You may want to write down your story prior to the call to help you better explain your situation to the customer representative. This may include important dates related to your employment and a list of other debts/accounts/medical expenses you have financial obligations to at this time and having difficulty paying due to reduced income or employment.
What steps can I take?
- Contact your bank or financial institution immediately via the customer service phone number on the back of your credit card to inquire about financial help during coronavirus.
- You may also be able to contact your financial institution via online support through their website or online chat support. Take notes as you speak with your financial institution and request for documentation of any agreed upon terms or changes to your credit card/bank etc.
- Utilize online banking or mobile apps to manage your payments or fund transfers to decrease in-person contact at financial institutions.
Additional information and resources
- Protect yourself financially from the impact of the coronavirus (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
- Credit card issuers are helping consumers affected by coronavirus — what you need to know (CNBC)
- Mental health
- Physical health
Playgrounds and parks
- City of Boston playgrounds and tot lots are temporarily closed.
- City of Boston parks remain open.
- Click here for more information from Boston Parks and Recreation.
- All MA public and private K-12 schools are closed (except residential and day schools that serve students with disabilities) until at least May 4. Click here for more information.
- Laptops: Boston Public Schools is providing Chromebooks to students who do not have consistent access to a computer at home. If your child needs a laptop, click here.
- Information on Boston-area colleges: Click here.
- For information on childcare centers, see the Child care section above.
- School meals
- The MBTA is reducing service in some lines with high demand lines retaining normal services. Click here for updates.
The MA Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has switched to an appointment-only reservation system for necessary and required in-person transactions, including certain CDL license transactions and some new registrations. Click here to make an appointment.
The RMV is now conducting suspension hearings over the phone. You will still need to visit the RMV to apply for and initiate a suspension hearing.
- The RMV is suspending the issuance of new REAL IDs and non-commercial learner’s permit exams until April 7.
If you have been laid off, terminated, or have experienced a significant decrease in hours, you may be eligible to receive unemployment assistance.
- Apply for Unemployment Benefits by calling at (617) 626-6800 or (877) 626-6800 or visiting this website.
- Click here for instructions on how to apply, or, if you have questions and need assistance click here for more information, call (617) 603-1530 (español) or (617) 603-1639 (all other languages), or fill out this short form and someone from Greater Boston Legal Services will contact you.
If you’ve already submitted a claim and need to get in touch with someone from the MA Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), fill out this form and someone will call you.
Click here for FAQ from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office on employee rights and employer obligations.
Some changes have been made to unemployment assistance in light of COVID-19:
- DUA will now pay workers who are ordered to quarantine themselves or leave work because of risk, exposure, or infection will be paid
- People will also be paid if leaving work to care for a family member.
- While employees are still asked to work when able, they will not need to provide any medical documentation for their leave.
- Some requirements around current unemployment claims have been relaxed, allowing many workers who are affected by closures to get some relief faster.
- The one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits has been waived as of March 18, effective immediately, allowing new unemployment claims to be paid more quickly.
If you are currently receiving public benefits, such as SNAP, and have lost hours at work, let the overseeing agency, such as DTA, know that you have experienced a decrease in income.
- If you previously did not qualify for public assistance, but have lost wages, you may now be eligible. Feel free to apply!
Most employers have needed to close or cut hours, so the likelihood of being hired at this time is slim. If you need work and are able to do so, the best places to look are:
- Grocery Stores
- Takeout/fast food restaurants
- Utility assistance: Click Here.
- The MA Department of Public Utilities told utility companies that it is extending the state’s moratorium on electric and gas service shut offs for the duration of the state of emergency Gov. Charlie Baker declared.
Working from home
- 9 Tips To Be Productive When Working At Home During COVID-19. (Forbes)
- Scanning documents: iPhone users can scan documents through the Notes app. See how.
- There are many free scanner apps as well.
- Click here for a list of mutual aid networks, compiled by MA Jobs with Justice, from communities across Massachusetts offering all types of support and resources.
- Emergency relief funds for Massachusetts workers (from MA Jobs with Justice).
- Boston COVID-19 Community Care.
- Boston Youth Resources.
- People’s Coronavirus Response - Greater Boston Area (Facebook group).
- Disaster and emergency relief resources from Philanthropy Massachusetts.
Thanks to Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath) for allowing us to share information they have compiled and for partnering to make vital resources available to the community.