Here's how the City of Seattle is helping residents during the coronavirus pandemic

Mar 17 2020, 11:45 am

During this tough time, the City of Seattle has been working non-stop to make life as easy as possible for its residents.

Mayor Durkan has ensured that residents feel cared for, by offering healthcare support, immigration-related support, food support, utility bills support, worker support, small business support, as well as home education support.

Below is a list of resources available to the Seattle community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Healthcare Support

Qualified individuals without insurance can now receive free or low-cost coverage due to the increasing number of coronavirus cases in Washington. Those without insurance will be able to enroll in Medicaid through Washington Apple Health during a special enrollment period running until April 8.

You may be eligible for Apple Health for Adults coverage if you’re between the ages of 19 and 64, have an annual household income at or below the Medicaid standards, are a US citizen or meet Medicaid immigration requirements, and are not entitled to Medicare.

Additional program requirements and eligibility can be found through the Washington State Healthcare Authority.

Those looking to enroll must contact the Customer Support Center between 7:30 am and 5:30 pm Monday to Friday at 1-855-923-4633; TTY: 1-855-627-9604, or a local certified broker or navigator, request the SEP and select a plan by April 8 for coverage start date beginning April 1, 2020. Language assistance and disability accommodations are provided at no cost.

Immigration-related Support

At a time when the US Supreme Court could soon terminate the program, financial contributions from the City of Seattle and Facebook have resulted in a $75,000 scholarship fund for DACA applicants in Seattle.

Scholarship funds will be available to individuals who have or previously had DACA status, have a completed DACA renewal application and reside in Seattle, work in Seattle, or go to school in Seattle.

Successful DACA scholarship grantees will receive a check made out to the Department of Homeland Security to submit with their DACA renewal application. All application processes will require the completion of an eligibility form and a 30-minute video or phone appointment with an El Centro de la Raza staff member.

Those seeking assistance with scholarship applications can do so at El Centro de la Raza, who will administer the DACA scholarship funds in a partnership with the Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

Food Support

With all public and private schools closing in King County, several schools have opened their cafeterias to serve all Seattle Public Schools students. The lunch hours will run from Monday through Friday, 11 am to 1 pm.

On Monday, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced, in a release, that a new voucher program will provide 6,250 families with $800 vouchers to purchase food, cleaning supplies, and other household goods at Safeway stores in Washington.

The mayor’s $5 million grocery voucher program will be distributed by the Office of Sustainability and Environment in two installments to families who are currently enrolled in City-supported childcare programs and food assistance programs.

Utility Bills Support

On Tuesday, March 10, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that utility services will not be switched off during the coronavirus pandemic. All Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light customers are able to set up deferred payment plans if their financial stability has been jeopardized by the coronavirus.

The utility and light companies have also created a Utility Discount Program which will allow income-eligible residents access to heavily discounted utilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Customers financially impacted by coronavirus are urged to set up payment plans with either Seattle City Light or Seattle Public Utilities by calling 206-684-3000 or sending an email 24/7 at http://www.seattle.gov/utilities/about-us/email-question.

UDP lowers Seattle City Light bills by 60 percent and Seattle Public Utility bills by 50 percent. To learn more about enrollment in UDP, call 206-684-0268. Eligibility requirements can be found here.

In addition, residential evictions for non-payment of rent have been temporarily halted. This will last until Seattle’s coronavirus emergency ends, pending the council’s approval.

Worker Support

Whether you’re forced into quarantine, your employer goes out of business, or you contract COVID-19, the Employment Security Department of Washington State has you covered — As of March 9, “Employment Security has adopted a series of emergency rules to relieve the burden of temporary layoffs, isolation, and quarantine for workers and businesses.”

If you’re needing to take time off work for COVID-19, the Washington State Employment Security Department recommends that you first use your employer-paid time off. If the leave is not available, Paid Family and Medical Leave may be able to help until you’re ready to return to work.

If you are forced to quit your job as a result of COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment benefits online.

Small Business Support

Small business owners are able to apply online for a grant of up to $10,000. Once an eligible business owner applies, the Office of Economic Development will send financial assistance within one week.

To qualify for a grant, small businesses must have five employees or less, the owner must be at or below 80% of the Area Median Income, the business must have a physical establishment, and it must be financially impacted by coronavirus.

Home Education Support

Those looking for free educational resources can browse through this list compiled by the City of Seattle.

Resources include BrainPop, Pear Deck, GoGuardian, and more.

For general information about the coronavirus from the county, click hereFor the latest in coronavirus coverage, click here