By Maura Healey | April 6, 2020
Thank you to everyone who is stepping up to do their part during this crisis – health care workers, first responders, grocery store employees, restaurant and delivery workers, parents, and all of you who are doing your best to get through these times and support one another.
Please continue to take care of yourselves and others. We will get through this together.
I wanted to follow up from my last message to let you know about some new resources available to Massachusetts residents during COVID-19. This is a constantly evolving situation, but we are working 24/7 to protect the rights of Massachusetts residents, hold bad actors accountable, and provide all of the support that we possibly can. The most important thing for us all to do right now is practice social distancing.
Below are some major updates that I hope you will find helpful:
- Debt Collection. My office filed an emergency regulation to protect residents from debt collection harassment. The regulation prohibits new lawsuits, garnishing wages, repossessing cars, capias warrants, visits to your home, and in-person contact. Read more about this new regulation here.
- Student Borrowers. The U.S. Department of Education began waiving interest on federal student loans on March 13, 2020. With the signing of the CARES Act on March 27, 2020, all payments and interest on federal student loans have been waived through September 30, 2020. For more information on your student loan options during COVID-19, including details on COVID-19 interest waivers and payment suspensions, income-driven repayment options, defaulted federal loans, private student loans, and the Attorney General’s Student Loan Assistance Unit, check out this resources page.
- Child Care. The AG’s Office understands the hardship of paying child care costs during this crisis, and recognizes the important role that child care programs play in the lives of children and families. Child care programs are encouraged to work with families to reach a mutually agreeable resolution and abide by the existing contract with parents. The AG’s Office continues to advocate for a comprehensive solution that addresses the needs of parents, programs, and staff. The state is also offering financial assistance programs for small businesses, including child care providers, that may help programs offer flexibility to families. Please visit the AG’s page with more resources for families.
- Charities. There are many charities and non-profit organizations that are doing great work for those who are struggling right now in Massachusetts. If you are able, we encourage you to support them, but make sure you do your research. Only give to charities you know you can trust, check their website first, ask questions, beware of copycat organizations and fake websites, do not give out your personal or financial information, and never pay in cash. If you have concerns, contact the AG’s Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division at 617-963-2315 or file a complaint online. You can also check out the AG’s Give Wisely Advisory and the Donating Dos and Don’ts Guide.
- Small Businesses. Our small businesses power our communities and our economy. We know that they have been hit especially hard by this crisis. Mayor Marty Walsh recently announced the creation of a Small Business Relief Fund that will provide direct financial relief to Boston’s small businesses impacted by COVID-19. I’m proud that our office is contributing $50,000. Applications are now open and can be found at http://boston.gov/businessrelief.
- Webinars. The Attorney General’s Office is offering a series of webinars in English, Spanish, and Portuguese this week to offer guidance and support during this crisis. Topics include labor rights, immigration rights, and landlord and tenant rights. For a full list and to RSVP, click here.
All of these resources and more can be found on my office’s COVID-19 resources page.
Our number one priority is to continue to serve you as the People’s Law Firm. We will continue to check in regularly to provide new updates. And please remember, while the team at the Attorney General’s Office is working remotely, we will never stop working for you.