Where to Find Financial Help Before Stimulus Checks Deposit

Millions of people are now out of work, laid off or furloughed because of the current crisis and many Americans are waiting for their stimulus checks to show up, either as a direct deposit into their account or a paper slip to arrive in the mail.

The economic impact payments, otherwise known as stimulus checks, are worth up to $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples and $500 for each qualifying child, depending on your financial circumstances. They are not taxable and will not impact tax refunds.

Payments will start arriving in mid-April. Those who do not receive the checks in April may have to wait longer for paper checks to arrive in the mail. The IRS will start sending those checks at the end of April. Lower-income households will be prioritized.

The Treasury said social security recipients, who do not usually have to file a tax return to the IRS, will receive their economic impact payments directly and automatically into their accounts. Retirees will also receive these payments automatically.

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There is not yet a way to track the status of your stimulus check. If you are in urgent need of financial help before the money drops, however, you may find it here. If you found yourself in sudden financial hardship there is a wealth of help and support at hand from organizations and groups across the country.

Below is a list of different organizations, charities, agencies, and groups that will help you to get the support you need at this troubled time. Some of the groups listed below are general directories, which can point you to local help for specific needs. Others are more targeted.

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The message from the nonprofit sector is clear; if you need help, ask for it. Do not be ashamed or proud to seek assistance. These services are there to be used and to prevent people and families from falling into worse hardship than they might have.

General Support Directories

The following resources will direct you toward relevant local help for your needs.

United Way's 211 helpline is a toll-free number you can call by phone or computer. Calling 211 will connect you to someone in your area who can direct you to local critical services for all sorts of needs, such as food, housing, health care, utilities assistance, and more.

Community Action Agencies (CAA) offer a range of key support services for their local areas to help those in need. The Community Action Partnership website has a locator tool to find the nearest CAA to you.

Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities, has a list of highly-rated charities spanning different sectors and service needs, such as medical services and relief supplies.

Benefits.gov is a federal government tool for finding benefits. There is government support available for pretty much everything, from food to utility bills to housing and more.

Need Help Paying Bills is a comprehensive directory of services and support for people in need, including free supplies for parents of babies, free clothing, and food. The directory also includes directions to help for those needing to pay utility bills, and directs users to local and state programs for low-income households.

The Salvation Army USA has a zip code search function to locate what services it is currently providing in your area. The group offers a range of help to those in need, such as food, clothing, and shelter.

Cash Support

The following resources offer cash support to those in urgent need.

GiveDirectly is delivering cash to American households that need it most. Households it identifies as needing support will receive $1,000. It is starting off with 200 households on SNAP, a federal food program for those on low-incomes, and plans to expand to others soon.

Modest Needs gives financial help to households in a short-term crisis. You can apply for grants online. Rather than giving cash directly to applicant households, Modest Needs settles bills or debts with vendors on their behalf.

Mercy Corps is providing small businesses in the U.S. with emergency cash grants to help them survive during the coronavirus pandemic.

Food

These are resources for finding help with putting food on the table.

Feeding America has a search tool for its nationwide, 200-strong network of food banks offering free pantry supplies and meals. Using the map, you can find a location near you.

Food Pantries also runs an online directory of local pantries, soup kitchens, food shelves, food banks and other food help and you can search by state for nearby aid.

The federal food stamp program, now known as SNAP, provides benefits to purchase food for low-income households. Now, because of the pandemic, some supplemental funding is available and parents can collect school meals to take home for their children.

The USDA National Hunger Hotline is available for those who need immediate assistance at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273). Information is available in English and Spanish and the hotline operates Monday through Friday, 7 A.M. to 10 P.M. ET.

Energy and Utility Bills

Here is some of the support available for paying energy and utility bills.

The federal government's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program exists to support low-income households in paying their energy bills. The website directs you to your local Low-Income Energy Office for more information. You can also contact the National Energy Assistance Referral system for help with applying.

Lifeline is a federal program that subsidizes the phone and internet bills of low-income households. You can find more information and apply for help on the program's website.

The FCC is running a list of companies that have pledged not to cut off telephone or internet services for their customers during the pandemic if they cannot pay their bills. They also pledged to waive any associated late fees.

Debt and Personal Finance

These are resources to help you manage your personal finances.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a guide to a range of help with your personal finances, from debt management to student loans to mortgage relief.

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors has a list of advisors offering pro-bono financial assistance during the pandemic. The association is also running a list of resources providing consumers with financial information for free.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling has an online locator service to link you up with a nonprofit financial counselor who can give you advice on managing your debt during this difficult period.

The Financial Planning Association has a list of planners offering pro bono services right now.

Housing

These resources focus on paying rent and finding shelter.

RentAssistance.us has a search function that allows you to input your zip code and find local rent assistance programs—government, nonprofit, private, and faith-based—that can help to keep a roof over your head if you're struggling financially.

The Homeless Shelters Directory is a state-by-state directory of shelters and other homeless services on offer to people in urgent housing need. You can find support close to you.

PublicHousing.com is a listings site covering all the states for affordable housing options and agencies to help you find a home at a low cost.

Just Shelter has a search function for community housing resources across America. Among those resources are legal services to help prevent evictions

Health Care

These are some health care resources for people with no or limited insurance.

Medicaid is the federal government's health care program for people with low incomes. The program is operated by the states and the Medicaid website has a list of contacts for state health departments.

The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics has a search tool to locate the clinics closest to you. These clinics offer free and low-cost health services.

The Children's Health Fund has projects across the U.S. where its medical teams support the health care needs of children. Its mobile "blue buses" travel around communities and offer curbside checkups and treatments. There is a map of blue bus locations on the website and a list of CHF medical centers.

Household Items and Clothing

These resources offer help with sourcing free household goods and clothing.

Freecycle is a resource for finding items people are giving away for free in your local area. These items, which range from furniture to clothing to electronics and more, are often in excellent condition and just in need of a new home.

Dress for Success is a nonprofit organization supporting low-income women into the professional world by kitting them out in professional attire as well as offering career support. You can find local affiliate contact details on the website.

If you are aware of directories and services that should be included in this article, please email s.croucher@newsweek.com.

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Volunteer Micheal Smith hands a guest a bagged lunch at My Brother's Table soup kitchen in Lynn, Massachusetts on March 30, 2020. JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images
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