In preparing for a talk I gave, I was tasked with pulling together some resources to help out many who are vulnerable and impacted by COVID-19.  Many who never had to access resources before, are now needing to do so.  Here at Optimum Joy, it’s important for us to acknowledge how meeting basic needs can impact the way that you view yourself & the world.  

In addition to the information provided below, I’d recommend checking out the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) COVID-19 Resource  https://www.nami.org/covid-19-guide & the State of Illinois Coronavirus Response Page:  https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/. 

Unemployment

What is the Resource: 

Through the Illinois Department of Services (IDES), individuals are eligible to receive financial assistance due to unemployment. 

Who’s eligible:  

IDES is encouraging all to apply for unemployment even if you are unsure if you qualify 

How can people access these resources during this time?

Apply at Illinois Department of Employment Services Website- https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/default.aspx or call  312-338-4337

  • You create an account (username and password)
  • Takes about an hour online
  • Once it’s complete, you will receive a confirmation page 
  • There is an option to do it on the phone
  • There are specific days that you are able to apply based on the first letter of your last name
  • For some people, they may need to be “certified” (ie they would be contacted by unemployment)
  • If you don’t hear from them in 2 weeks, contact them

Food Stamps/Medicaid/Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) 

What is the Resource: 

Through the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) individuals can receive temporary financial assistance and medical insurance (Medicaid). 

Who’s eligible:

For Medicaid- Blind, Disabled or Aged (65 or older), or

  1. have children under the age of 19, or
  2. be pregnant.

For TANF- temporary financial assistance for pregnant women and families with one or more dependent children. 

How can people access these resources during this time?

  • https://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=30357-Illinois Department of Human Services or call 1-833-2 FIND HELP
  • Governor Pritzker said that no one is going to get kicked off of Medicaid.  For those who do try to call the office, Department of Human Services office, please note that DHS will want to talk to the person who is in need of benefits.  So if you are a caretaker, helper, caseworker calling on behalf of another person, please be aware that you’ll need to patch them into the call. Please also note that the wait times on the phone is fairly long 

Food

What is the Resource:

Food pantries, food banks and spiritual communities are lending a hand to providing for your food needs. 

Who’s eligible: 

Many are inviting those with a low income, who are struggling financially due to being furloughed and unemployed.  

How can people access these resources during this time?

  • Food pantries are more lenient, going outside of their zones, delivering for those who can’t leave their houses. Some of them can order online (Lakeview pantry) & some even offer Saturday  deliveries
  • Meals on Wheels https://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/find-meals or call 1-888-998-6325.  While there is usually an application process, now it takes 15 minutes on the phone.  
  • Uptown Covenant Church (939 W Wilson, https://uptowncov.org/corona) has offered to shop for those who have Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.  They will need your Link card (SNAP money for food) to purchase those items on your behalf.
  • Ezra is a Multi-Service Center in Uptown Chicago (909 W Wilson, 773-275-0866) is handing out food
  • Vineyard Christian Church of Evanston Care Center (2495 Howard St. Evanston, (847) 328-4544) is continuing to provide food through their pantry on Wednesday nights from 6-7pm. 

Older Adults

What is the Resource:

While supporting and walking alongside older adults in the community, these are a few resources to link them to. 

Who’s eligible:  

Older Adults and their caretakers 

How can people access these resources during this time?

  • Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline 800 272 3900 for Dementia related support and problem solving around Dementia related challenges.  www.alz.org for dementia support.
  • www.communityresourcefinder.org – In home care agencies, doctors, housing, elder law attorneys.
  • https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx to look up local Agencies, including the Area Agency on Aging which provides support to older and vulnerable adults. 

Transportation

What is the Resource:

Whether you are driving your car or continuing to rely on public transportation, please know that there is financial support available for you.  “Demand-response” service in which a passenger must reserve a ride in advance.” https://www.pacebus.com/sub/paratransit/default.asp 

Who’s eligible:

  • For PaceDial a Ride for those traveling in the suburbs-check online for passenger eligibility
  • ParaTransit fixed routes (Ie the route is pre-determined based on the travel plans of the individual)-for senior citizens and people with disabilities.
  • ADA ParaTransit for those who have difficulty navigating public transportation-for individuals with disabilities, you must be certified. Check out this site for more details on certification.  https://rtachicago.org/rider-resources/accessible-transit/paratransit-certification
  • Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) ParaTransit (Pace “door to door”) services is providing recipients a “temporary” pace approval due to COVID-19 emergency service response. 

How can people access these resources during this time?   

Steps for applying:

  • Contact RTA-Pace mobility help line: 312 663 4357
  • Request an application due to having a Medical/Mental Health disability, they will be scheduled a phone interview at a later day/time
  • They will receive a phone call within two weeks, they must be available for the phone interview
  • A letter will be sent, informing them they have been awarded a temporary approval for six months due to CoVid 19
  • The letter serves as proof, until their card is mailed between 10-14 business days from receiving the letter
  • One month prior to the expiration date, they will need to call and request an application to prevent disruption of services

Child support

What is the Resource:

Activities, parks, computers, and music or resources to support your kids.   

Who’s eligible:

Most are open to all kids. 

How can people access these resources during this time?

Utility Help/Internet

What is the Resource:

Financial support to access internet services for a reduced rate and other resources to help with paying down debt on utility bills. 

Who’s eligible:

Low income, please check their sites for eligibility. 

How can people access these resources during this time?

Emergency Funding for Artists

What is the Resource:

Chicago based resource for artists 

Who’s eligible:

Artists in Chicago, check their site for further information. 

How can people access these resources during this time?

  • https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-ent-coronavirus-pritzker-lightfoot-arts-fund-20200401-6mw6rpxqebgeriozkndbfnyexm-story.html 

Support groups/Mental Health

What is the Resource:

Virtual Support Groups and Teletherapy Services for individuals, couples and families. 

Who’s eligible:

Check the individual resources for eligibility criteria 

How can people access these resources during this time?

Written by therapist Pamela Larkin

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