Tornado and COVID-19 Financial Relief for Individuals and Small Businesses
The month of March has been a trying month for our community. From the devastating Tornado of March 3rd to the effects of the COVID-19 virus, Nashville has truly been tested. First, my prayers goes to all the families impacted by both and second my sincerest gratitude to our first responders, health workers, the mayor, my fellow councilmembers and our amazing residents. I am so proud of a community where everyone came together to help each other after the tornado.
With Nashville still recovering and our community practicing social distancing, many Nashvillians are facing significant financial setbacks, especially our small business owners who are unable to operate their businesses and our school parents who are unable to go to work due to school closings. To make matters worse most small employers do not offer paid leave, and most residents are plagued with choosing between going to work while sick or paying their bills.
The goal of this blog post is to provide a summary of some of the relief options that are now available for individuals and businesses impacted by either the tornado or the virus or both.
Paid Sick Leave
H.R.6201 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law yesterday by the president, congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Act as to provide relief for individuals and small businesses with less than 500 employees. The bill establishes a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak. It also requires employers to provide paid sick leave as well. Qualified businesses will be receive refundable employer tax credit for paying these benefits. This is important because it makes the decision to close or allow workers to work remotely easier, since businesses will not have to worry about loss of income.
Employees qualify for the paid leave under the following circumstance:
- They have been exposed to the coronavirus or exhibit symptoms of it.
- They are recommended to quarantine by a healthcare provider and cannot work from home.
- They need to care for a family member who has been exposed to or exhibits symptoms of the coronavirus.
- They need to care for a child younger than 18 years old because their school or day care is closed, or their childcare provider is unavailable.
In addition, the bill establishes requirements for providing corona virus testing at no charge; provides supplemental appropriations for the WIC and TEFAP programs; modifies the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and temporarily increase the Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP)
The Coronavirus bill also provides grants for employees to apply for unemployment insurance claims from the state. If you are not working due to illness and your employer does not offer paid sick leave, you may qualify for unemployment insurance. Note employees do not have to be laid off to qualify. The bill expand eligibility for unemployment insurance for employees that has wage loss as a result of any of the following:
- Employers ceases operations and employees cannot go to work (including closing as a result of social distancing).
- Employees quarantined and expected to go back to work later
- Employees that left their job due to risk of exposure
For more information and to apply go to https://www.careeronestop.org/WorkerReEmployment/UnemploymentBenefits/unemployment-benefits.aspx
Small Business Loan
The Small Business Administration is providing low interest long term loans of up to $2M to small businesses, to alleviate cash flow issues as a result of the virus. The loan is available to small businesses including not for profit except churches are religious organizations. The loan can be used for payroll expenses and other regular day to day business expenses (leases, purchase, and other loan repayment) Business es with other SBA loan qualifies to apply, for the disaster relief loan, however while the loan can be used to pay other loans, it cannot be used to repay other SBA loans.
In addition, employers that use the business interruption loan for keeping employees on payroll may qualify for loan forgiveness. For more information and to apply check out https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Information/Index
Due to the recent tornado, Davidson County residents and businesses now has an extension until July 15 to file their income taxes. Business are also granted extension to pay payroll taxes due. For more information https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-announces-tax-relief-for-tennessee-victims-of-severe-storms-tornadoes-and-flooding
Nashville United Way COVID Fund
Metro government in partnership with United way has created a COVID fund chaired by former Senator Bill Frist. With a starting capital of $500K, the fund will assist metro residents with loss of wages due to the virus. For more information: https://www.unitedwaynashville.org/covid-19
For more up to date information on the COVID-19 in Nashville, visit https://www.asafenashville.org/
MNPS Free Food
In order to alleviate the burden on families with children that rely on school breakfast and lunches for meals, MNPS is providing free breakfast and lunch while school are out. Check this link for more information and for locations: https://news.mnps.org/mnps-food-delivery-sites-announced/
As the community continues to recover and rebuild from the Tornado. It is important for residents impacted to be aware of the following relief or assistance available. The mayor’s office and the office of Emergency Management had done a phenomenal job in response to the tornado, 3 disaster relief locations have been set up to connecting residence with resources and filling out necessary relief applications. I highly encourage residents to visit these centers to get expert assistance. For a one stop resource information on the tornado, check out https://www.nashville.gov/Government/Metro-Storm-Response-Information.aspx
FEMA Application: https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4476
These past couple of weeks have been rough, but I truly believe that we will get through it together . We will continue to share information as it becomes available. If you have any questions or would like clarifications, please contact 311 for tornado relief information or call your local councilmember. Also, Feel free to contact me Zulfat.firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 615-585-2558
As always, I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.