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Up-to-date COVID-19 information

OVERVIEW

FINANCIAL SECURITY

  • Several provisions of the Executive Order (EO) issued by Governor Newsom following the declaration of disaster due to the COVID-19 Emergency, which allowed recipients of safety net programs (CalWORKs, CalFresh, In-Home Supportive Services, Medi-Cal, and Cash Assistance for Immigrants) to continue receiving them without interruption or need for re-certification, expired in June. However, several others, like the stop in CalWORKs time clocks and the waiver of interview requirements, will continue as a result of a separate EO issued in June. For a comprehensive summary of that EO, click here.
  • Water and other utility shutoffs for homes and small businesses are suspended while the state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, at least until April 2021.

FOOD

  • Restaurant delivery service is available for older Californians. Information and sign-up details for interested participants and restaurants are available here.
  • The California Department of Education has posted a list of all school districts and locations offering grab-and-go meals during the COVID-19 school closure. They’ve also created an app to help families locate meals.
  • California households receiving SNAP food stamp benefits (CalFresh) can now purchase groceries online through a USDA pilot program.

HEALTH

  • Testing (when available) and screening for COVID-19 is covered at no cost for all Californians. Find a testing site at the state’s “COVID-19 Testing Sites” website.
  • If you have Medi-Cal (even emergency or restricted scope), COVID-19 testing, screening, and treatment is free. Testing, screening and treatment for COVID-19 will not be used against anyone in a Public Charge analysis.
  • The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) has a new Medi-Cal program for those who are uninsured and need COVID-19 testing and treatment, open to anyone not otherwise eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal. Apply directly in a community clinic or hospital.
  • Find your nearest provider at this link — you can search by your address. Any of the clinics, hospitals, and doctor offices should enroll you in the COVID-19 “presumptive eligibility” program. You can also call the Medi-Cal nurse helpline at: (877) 409-9052.
  • Applications for Medi-Cal will be accepted without written proof of income documentation during the COVID-19 crisis. If you cannot find paper proof, you can submit the information by phone. Find your local county phone number at this link.
  • If you had Medi-Cal in mid-March, it will stay active until the end of the current public health emergency. Your Medi-Cal will not be cut off if you are unable to provide renewal paperwork right now.

HOUSING

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More on Financial Security

Several provisions of the Executive Order (EO) issued by Governor Newsom following the declaration of disaster due to the COVID-19 Emergency, which allowed recipients of safety net programs (CalWORKs, CalFresh, In-Home Supportive Services, Medi-Cal, and Cash Assistance for Immigrants) to continue receiving them without interruption or need for re-certification, expired in June. However, several others, like the stop in CalWORKs time clocks and the waiver of interview requirements, will continue as a result of a separate EO issued in June. For a comprehensive summary of that EO, click here.

Water and other utility shutoffs for homes and small businesses are suspended while the state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, at least until April 2021. To ensure households keep essential Lifeline wireless and home phone service, the California Public Utilities Commission has suspended its rule requiring people with low-incomes to re-enroll in the Lifeline program, also until April 2021.

In March, the President signed the $2 trillion CARES Act, the Coronavirus relief package. It includes some direct payments, expanded unemployment benefits, and additional help for low-income communities and the organizations that serve them,  but it was passed without important benefits and considerations raised to address concerns for the poorest Americans, especially those who are living in deep poverty, people who are disabled or advanced in age, and people who are undocumented. The bill invests significantly more government aid for corporate America than it does for the people hit hardest by the crisis. We are hopeful that the fourth aid package includes the more robust and long-lasting supports included in the HEROES Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in May.

Many low-income Americans are still struggling to get their Economic Impact Payments authorized by the CARES Act. Western Center and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles created an FAQ for COVID-19 Stimulus Checks. (Espanol).

Governor Newsom announced an executive order requiring the exemption of federal, state, or local government financial assistance from debt collection and garnishments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To address the fact that undocumented Californians impacted by COVID-19 are ineligible for unemployment benefits and disaster relief, including the CARES Act, due to immigration status, California set aside $75 million for grants of $500-$1,000 in Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI) and June 30, 2020 was the last day to apply for this assistance.

The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) has suspended collection on debt imposed by state and local governments, including the juvenile and criminal legal systems and superior courts (traffic violations, infractions). This policy is in effect until July 15, 2020 and, at this point, there is no indication about whether it will continue after that point.

Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order to expand child care for essential workers, and help prevent child hunger by taking steps to ensure a broad take-up of Pandemic EBT authorized by the federal Families First Act.

California Child Support Services is temporarily stopping the automatic placement of bank liens and suspension of drivers’ licenses, effective on March 17, 2020. Note that there may be instances where actions were already in the process and you will need to contact the agency handling your case. Additional resources and instructions for child support and child support collections during the COVID-19 Crisis can be found here.

California Courts issued new rules that set bail for people accused of a misdemeanor or low-level felony at $0 during the emergency, but this rule has since been rescinded.

If an employee’s hours are reduced or their employer shuts down, Unemployment Insurance is available, and if a medical professional says someone is unable to work due to the virus, Disability Insurance is available.

More on Food Security

You can apply for CalFresh online here.

California households receiving SNAP food stamp benefits (CalFresh) are now able to purchase groceries online through a USDA pilot program.

Families with children who receive free meals at school when school is in session can apply for Pandemic EBT to receive food benefits. The application is open until July 15, 2020 at this site.

More on Health Care

Medi-Cal covers all testing and treatment for the virus. For those with private insurance, current policy directives from the state of California say COVID-19 tests will be covered free of cost under all health plans regulated by the state. California DHCS has a new Medi-Cal program for those who are uninsured and need COVID-19 testing and treatment, open to anyone not otherwise eligible for Medi-Cal. Apply directly in a community clinic or hospital

For care related to COVID-19, you should CALL your health plan for instructions. If you do not have a health plan, contact a local community clinic, or the Health Consumer Alliance hotline at 888‑804‑3536.

If you need health coverage right away, you can apply for Medi-Cal online at Covered California, and learn about more coverage options here. To receive information on options for testing and screening for the COVID-19, contact county public health departments and the Medi-Cal nurse helpline at: (877) 409-9052.

Applications for Medi-Cal will be accepted without proof of income documentation during the COVID-19 crisis. If you have documentation, you should provide it, but it is not mandatory at this time. This is also true for those needing to renew existing coverage – your Medi-Cal will not be cut off if you are unable to provide paperwork. 

Everyone is encouraged to seek care if they are sick, regardless of income or immigration status.

For more information about your right to health care, visit the Health Consumer Alliance’s COVID-19 information site.

More on Housing

California Courts have issued rules that suspend most evictions during shelter-in-place.

The new rules include procedural protections for tenants that will achieve the priorities expressed by the Governor’s March 27th Executive Order, which states that a public health crisis is not the time to proceed with evictions. The rule suspends tenants’ obligation to quickly file a response to eviction cases, states that no default judgments for eviction will be issued against tenants during shelter-in-place, and suspends trials for eviction cases. Our summary of the rules on evictions and foreclosures can be found here.

Additionally, many local leaders have recognized the particular threat this crisis poses to low-income households, and have responded with local moratoria on evictions.

Here are a few helpful resources from our partners:

In the video below, Western Center attorney Madeline Howard speaks with Health Leads to give an update on tenant protections afforded by the state and local government. Madeline helps us understand the state-wide “eviction moratorium,” how to understand and leverage stronger local protections, and what may come next as leases turn over, and we prepare for the Shelter in Place to be lifted.

You can find more Information for Renters and Homeowners About Their Protections and Resources, from the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.

Additional Resources:

**IMPORTANT: In this time of increased race-based discrimination in work, school, housing and community, and with reports of hostility directed toward people of Asian descent due to COVID-19, we call on our leaders to condemn hate speech and action, and to dispel myths about the relationship between race and the virus. State and local leaders, as well as public agencies, have a responsibility to correct the misinformation that people of Asian descent are more likely to transmit COVID-19. For an example of leadership in this area, see this letter issued by the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.