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Resources and Program Updates for Westport Residents Affected By COVID-19

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Prepared by the Town of Westport’s Department of Human Services 

This page will be updated regularly. This is not an exhaustive list nor is it an endorsement of programs/services.

For additional up-to-date information, please go to:

Westportct.gov/COVID19

wwhd.org

Ct.gov/coronavirus

cdc.gov/

www.211.org/services/covid19

Connecticut residents can call 2-1-1 or text CTCOVID to 898211 or go the website for 24/7 access to information,  resources and COVID-19 testing. 

The Town of Westport’s Department of Human Services continues to provide remote services to residents Monday through Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm. We are monitoring inquiries and working closely with the Incident Management Team to address the essential needs of residents in a timely fashion. Please contact Human Services at 203-341-1050 or humansrv@westportct.gov if you or a neighbor has an emergency need of food or medications.  We are investigating ways to provide safe and efficient help to at-risk homebound seniors and/or households without unnecessarily exposing volunteers and/or recipients to COVID-19.  

 It is important to rely on natural supports of friends and neighbors at this time.  Every resident should formulate a backup plan in case you or a family member falls ill.  Many seniors, and other at-risk populations, are following CDC recommendations to practice social distancing or isolation.  Some may need assistance in procuring supplies for extended self-isolation. We encourage residents to call their neighbors to offer help, taking care to follow CDC precautions by keeping a safe social distance. Remember that even if you are feeling well, you could still be a carrier of the virus. Resources for Seniors

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act responds to the coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers.   For more information go to https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus

 

Update 06-15-2020:  ON CAMPERSHIP

With the cancellation of Parks & Rec Camp Compo and Rec'ing Crew and the uncertainty of other camps opening this summer, we want to provide you with a status of how Westport Human Services is planning to assist families during the summer months. 

  • Submit your 2020 Campership Application no later than Friday, June 12. No extensions will be made. 
  • You MUST be up-to-date with financial information before we can accept your application.
  • If you submitted your application and requested a camp that is cancelled, please let me know if you have found another camp that is open and taking registrations. 
  • Full-time working parents will be given first priority.
  • If you find a camp that is open and you would like to enroll your child(ren), please indicate that on your application and we will determine a scholarship amount we can assist with.
  • Please consider "on-line" camps / courses for older children 13+.

Access the ONLINE application at: https://www.westportct.gov/government/departments-a-z/human-services/2020-campership-application-form. It is a two-step process - enter your name, email address, and phone number then hit SUBMIT. This will bring you to the Campership Application Instruction page. The directions are easy to follow! Remember to SAVE your application before hitting the SUBMIT button.

 

Update: 06/16/2020 RENTER'S REBATE Program is Underway: 

 Qualifying elderly and disabled residents can now apply for the Renters’ Rebate Program by making an appointment with Kristen Witt, LCSW.  To qualify, residents must be age 65 as of 12/31/2019, or totally disabled and collecting Social Security Disability income. The maximum gross income for the program is $37,000 for a single person and $45,100 for a married couple.  The rebate calculation is based on a graduated income scale and qualifying rent and utility payments (gas, electric, water, heating oil) made in the prior tax year of 2019. A one-year residency in Connecticut is required. Persons renting an apartment, room, mobile home, or living in cooperative housing may be eligible for this program.  

The application deadline for the State-Funded Renters’ Rebate Program is September 28, 2020.  Qualifying Westport residents should contact the Human Services Department for an appointment by calling (203) 341-1050.

 Due to the current pandemic, all documentation will be completed electronically or via mail. 

 

Food Assistance

Use local delivery services and/or grab-n-go situations when possible (support local businesses and/or try instacart or Amazon Prime).

Food Resources for Income-Eligible Residents

  • The Town of Westport Department of Human Services relies on the Westport Women’s Club food pantry to provide one-time, emergency food to qualifying residents. Contact DHS at 203-341-1050 for this and any additional food requests.
  • Homes with Hope's Community Kitchen (45 Jesup Rd.) is serving curb-side meals daily (lunch 12pm, dinner 5pm), 1 bag of groceries per week available by request Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri from 1-4pm. 203-226-1661 www.hwhct.org
  • Mobile Food Pantries are still operating.  For details go to www.ctfoodbank.org for the Mobile Pantry Schedule
  • Person to Person in Darien, Norwalk and Stamford assists income eligible Westport families. The Food Pantry operates 9:00-12:30pm Mon-Fri.  Requirements: 1) Appointments are recommended.  2) A one-time registration (bring ID)--income eligibility is not required. Nearest location Norwalk 203 939 1650 or https://p2phelps.org
  • SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) - If you are dealing with food insecurity and have yet to enroll in SNAP, please call the EHC! SNAP Call Center (English & Spanish – 866.974.7627), or go to the website https://www.endhungerct.org/snap/ for more information.
  • Expensify.org will match SNAP groceries up to $50 for Families on SNAP- For families that are already enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) https://www.expensify.org/hunger  is reimbursing up to $50 per family (one time) to help with additional grocery expenses.

 

 

Emergency Financial Assistance

If financial or access issues exist for food, fuel, and/or emergency expenses, Westport residents can call the Department of Human Services at 203-341-1050 to determine if you are eligible for one-time emergency financial assistance and/or to explore other options. Documentation will be required of newly established clients.

 

Transportation

 Temporary Changes and Updates for Westport's Commuter and Door to Door Service

 

Renters

Governor Lamont’s order –  includes a provision to protect residential renters during the public health crisis. If you cannot pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 emergency, please click on the following link.  Link includes utility information. Exec. Order no. 7X with Utilities 04-21-2020

  

Taken from CT Fair housing website CT Fair Housing COVID-19

3.  What can I do if I lose my job and can't afford to pay rent next month?

  • You can tell your landlord that you lost your job and ask if they will let you pay back rent when you get a new job or receive unemployment benefits. You should put in writing any agreement your landlord makes with you. You can use a letter or an e-mail to your landlord to document your agreement.  
  •  If you lose income and you live in public or subsidized housing, or pay the rent with a RAP or Section 8 voucher, report the change in income immediately to the administrator of your voucher (the Housing Authority, Imagineers, or J D’Amelia)/  You may file for unemployment benefits if you lost your job due to the COVID-19 emergency. Connecticut has provided instruction for faster claims processing.
  • People who don’t usually qualify for unemployment benefits may qualify now, including partially employed people, independent contractors, and the self-employed. You can find more information here or call 860-263-6975 or 203-455-2653 if you have questions.    

 

Utility Assistance

Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) has ordered a moratorium on all utility shut-offs (electric, gas, and water) for the next 30 days, or as long as the Public Health and Civil Preparedness Emergency is in effect. Residential customers are strongly encouraged to continue paying their bills, as they will ultimately be responsible for accrued services. This ruling applies to all residential customers and is therefore unlike the Winter Protection Program where income eligible households are protected from a shut off through May 1. 

 

VITA Tax Prep Assistance

  • US Tax filing deadline extended to July 15 due to COVID-19. 

  • VITA is offering free virtual tax preparation to residents without in-person contact.  The site and requisite document exchange mechanisms are encrypted for safety, and the methodology conforms to IRS policy and procedures. Go to: Free Tax Preparation Service Online

  • The IRS announced a sweeping series of steps to assist taxpayers by providing relief on a variety of issues ranging from easing payment guidelines to postponing compliance actions for those facing challenges related to COVID-19. IRS Tax Relief

 

Important Update on Direct Deposit of Economic Payment  -04-16-20 

More than 80 million Americans who provided their direct deposit information on their 2018 or 2019 tax returns are scheduled to receive their Economic Impact Payments this week. If you are eligible for a payment and don’t receive one soon, please click below:

Economic Impact Direct Deposit Info.

 

Economic Impact Payment for non IRS Filers & non recipients of Social Security 

Those eligible for payments who neither filed taxes for 2018 or 2019 nor received Social Security Old-Age, Survivors, or Disability Insurance benefits last year must register for Economic Impact payments using this resource.

 

Legal Information

Connecticut Legal Services (CLS) has a NEW statewide hotline for CLIENTS to answer your education related questions. CLS Hotline

 

Unemployment Compensation

If you become unemployed due to coronavirus, you should file for unemployment benefits through Connecticut's Department of Labor. Click here for more information. For frequently asked questions about Corona Virus for workers and employers click here

 

Expanded Unemployment Insurance 

Please click on link below to learn more about how those who have recently been laid off or furloughed may access the expanded benefits provided by the CARES Act, including an extra $600 in payments per week to help get through this current crisis.

Q & A About Expanded Unemployment Insurance

 

Local Businesses

 

low interest targeted loans to assist small businesses and nonprofits severally impacted by COVID-19.  CDC recommended strategies for employers and businesses to reduce exposure and provide guidance to their employees will be updated as needed. 

 CDC recommended strategies for employers and businesses to reduce exposure and provide guidance to their employees will be updated as needed.  Small Business Owners Guide to the Cares Act

Coronavirus Resources for Businesses

 

Health Care

  •  Please call your primary care physician if you aren't feeling well.  Do not go to the emergency room or to a testing site without being directed to do so by a medical professional.

  • Call Connecticut's 2-1-1 hotline or text CTCOVID to 898211 for information on COVID-19 for information, resources, testing and treatment options. 211 Infoline

  • Westport Weston Health District list of nearest test sites Click Here

  • Healthcare providers are being granted a streamlined approval process to accelerate availability of treatment and services, including telehealth.

  • RX Resources in Westport and Surrounding Areas 04-01-2020

  • Access Health CT has opened a Special Enrollment Period through April 17. The only way to sign up for this Special Enrollment Period is by calling 855-365-2428.

  • Yale New Haven Health is offering a call center for patients and the community who have questions about COVID-19. Healthcare professionals from the health system are available to answer your specific questions Monday – Friday, 7 am – 7 pm. Call 833-ASK-YNHH

  • CT Children’s Medical Center launched a Coronavirus Pediatric Hotline for parents: https://www.connecticutchildrens.org/
  • Norwalk Hospital Call Center: 888-667-9262; 8am-8pm.  Norwalk Hospital Testing – Parking lot at the intersection of Stevens Street and Elmcrest Terrace; Hours Monday Thru Saturday   8:30am to 3:30pm
  • Stamford Hospital Call Center: 203-276-4111; 7am-7pm
  • Hartford Healthcare Call Center: 860-972-8100
  • Westport Weston Health District
    • Telemedicine services for Medicaid/Husky patients. Call to schedule a virtual appointment  P:203.227.9571 x 242

 

Mental Health:

If you or a loved one is having a mental health crisis:

  • CT Information Hotline 211 or go to www.211ct.org for mobile crisis support for individuals and/or children.
  • Mental Health Crisis Text Line - Text “SHARE” to 741741
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Kids in Crisis also has a 24-hour hotline for assistance 203-661-1911. 
  • NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health):If you need to talk to someone, text NAMI to 741741 or call the NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).
  • Alcoholics Anonymous - Please contact your site to see if meetings are continuing in your neighborhood.
  • Red Cross CT Chapter is building a database of options for families who have lost someone, to include grief support, financial, legal, services, etc.  CT Virtual Family Assistance Center: Integrated Condolence Care Program https://www.redcross.org/virtual-family-assistance-center/ct-family-assistance-center.html  

 

Warm Lines are telephone support services staffed by people who have experience/expertise with mutual support.  These lines are not crisis lines and the days/hours of operation vary.

  • JoinRiseBe Statewide Young Adult Warmline Initiative:  1-855-6HOPENOW 12-9pm daily
  • Advocacy Unlimited Phone Based Peer Support:  888-770-4478 M-F 9am-5pm
  • SAMHSA’s free 24-hour Disaster Distress Helpline:  1-800-985-5990 if lonely or need support
  • In The Rooms:  www.InTheRooms.com offers online recovery, wellness,spiritual, etc., meetings
  •  The Rowan Center Counseling and support services to victims of sexual assault; 24-hour crisis hotlines (203) 329-2929.
  • Positive Directions may also be accepting new referrals.  Contact them at www.positivedirections.org

 

Other Mental Health Resources

  • The Hub CT is Southwest Connecticut’s Regional Behavioral Health Action Organization.  Check their website for useful resources for mental health, prevention and wellness.  https://www.thehubct.org/

  • Jordan Porco Foundation:  Check In At Home! We’ve put together activities that can be done at home. Check In At Home is for anyone, anywhere. It’s especially important to check-in on your mental health while you’re in quarantine. Here are six activities that will help reduce stress, get your body moving, put you in a positive mindset, and more! https://www.rememberingjordan.org/check-in-at-home/

 

For non-emergency situations, call the Department of Human Services at 203-341-1050 or email humansrv@westportct.gov for referral to appropriate resources. 

 

Online Activities for Families and Seniors

 

HOW TO HELP

                                                                               

Volunteer
  • Grass-roots efforts to help friends and neighbors is an essential component to our COVID-19 response. We are investigating ways to provide safe, confidential, and efficient help to at-risk homebound seniors and/or households without unnecessarily exposing volunteers and recipients to COVID-19.

  • If you have chosen to help neighbors in need on your own, please be sure to follow CDC Guidelines and honor recipients’ privacy.

  • DHS is not currently utilizing volunteers, but if you’d like to be added to our resource list, we are accepting names and contact information from those that are healthy and available to assist as needed.

 

Donate
  • To donate to a virtual food drive for residents through the Department of Human Services’ “We Care Westport” portal please go to www.westportct.org\humanservices
  • The Westport Women’s Club is our local food pantry, we are not currently accepting food donations due to exposure risks and lack of storage.  This may change so please stay tuned. 
  •  To donate response and recovery goods, please go to this link to learn what items are needed whether your donation will be accepted. 
  •  Food for the Front Line – nstraight@mac.com - fundraiser delivering meals to local healthcare workers.
  • Norwalk Hospital Meal Train - donate meals from your local area restaurants to Norwalk Hospital staff

 

RELIABLE WEBSITES FOR INFORMATION

 

If you have not already done so, you are encouraged to sign up or follow the Town of Westport’s updates:

Online:  www.westportct.gov/COVID19

Get Updates:  Signup for emergency alerts

Get Updates:  Sign up for email subscriptions

Social Media:  #Westportctcovid19info

 

For 24/7 access to information and resources, CT residents can dial 211 for the state information hotline.

Please only use 911 if you are having a medical emergency.