Benefits for Workers and Families
Workers will be able to receive unemployment benefits and employers will get relief of benefit charges if an employer needs to curtail or shut down operations temporarily because a worker becomes sick and other workers need to be isolated or quarantined as a result of COVID-19. A worker that follows guidance issued by a medical or public health official to isolate or quarantine themselves as a result of exposure to COVID-19 and is not receiving paid sick leave from their employer may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. For more information, refer to the Employment Security Department website.
Paid Medical Leave
If a worker falls seriously ill and is forced to quit, they may qualify for Paid Family Medical Leave while ill under the existing program. Once recovered and available for work, they may apply for unemployment benefits. The state is also removing the full-time requirement and expanding standby ability to part-time/less-than part-time workers who are isolated. Leniency for payments being made by employers for paid family medical leave: All employers who are impacted by COVID-19 will have penalties waived for workers compensation and paid leave. More information can be found on the state’s web portal.
Thanks to generous donations to the Community Relief Fund and a variety of community partners, one month of rental assistance is being offered to people in King County struggling to pay rent due to COVID-19. If you’re a King County resident who has been impacted financially by COVID-19 and are behind on your rent, you may qualify for assistance. Note: as of May 20, applications are paused due to the volume of applications, but you can sign up for updates here.
Moratorium on Rental Evictions
On March 16, 2020, the City of Seattle passed a moratorium on rental evictions and late fees. This moratorium does not excuse tenants from rent obligations but it prevents landlords from proceeding with evictions for a period of 60 days or until the state of emergency due to COVID-19 is lifted. When the moratorium ends, tenants will owe whatever debts they’ve incurred and landlords will be allowed to evict them for nonpayment. For more information, visit the City of Seattle webpage on renting in Seattle.
For homeowners, King County is also offering property tax deferment until June 1, 2020 without late charges.
Relief for Food Service Workers
Restaurant workers who live and work in King County and have suffered financial hardship because of the COVID-19 crisis may be eligible for $500 in immediate assistance from The Plate Fund.
The Seattle Hospitality Emergency Fund and Wellspring Family Services have created a fundraising effort to provide direct financial support to hospitality industry workers in the Seattle Metro Area.
The James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund is gathering donations from everyday diners as well as corporate donors to distribute micro-grants to independent businesses.
Check out EATER’s continuously updated list of worker-specific and geographically targeted relief funds.
The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation also maintains a list of resources for restaurants and workers coping with the COVID-19 crisis.
Northwest Harvest supports food banks across Washington state. Visit their website to learn more about how to donate, volunteer or receive food from local food banks. The Pike Place Market also runs a food bank downtown. If you are able, please consider making a donation. Food banks are currently experiencing increased demand and are in need of volunteers and donations.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, called Basic Food in Washington, also helps people by providing monthly benefits to buy food. You can find out more about that program and apply online at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services website or by calling 1-877-501-2233.
The City of Seattle is also managing several food security related services, including food vouchers, support for families of Seattle Public Schools students, food delivery for seniors and more. Visit their resource page for more information.
Finding Health Coverage
Since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, Washingtonians have had access to preventive care, such as treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure, along with other health care services they need to stay healthy through Washington Healthplanfinder – the state’s online marketplace for individuals and families to compare and enroll in health insurance coverage.
You may qualify for free or low-cost health coverage through the Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) program. Apple Health enrollment is open year-round. Eligibility is based on your income and household size.