Resources to Get Through the Pandemic
Wednesday, May 6, 2020 10:30 AM

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Here is District 10’s guide to make your search easier to find pandemic-related information and resources. In addition to resources listed here, you can also check out our resources for getting food you need or crave (whether that be groceries, a carry-out meal, or a food shelf), or helping -- or at least keeping in touch with -- neighbors in need.

If there is other information that would be helpful, email us or leave us a voice message at 651-644-3889.

Saint Paul has a phone line available to answer questions about coronavirus issues; the line can also provide interpreters in Hmong, Karen, Oromo, Somali, and Spanish. Call 651-266-6000 or send a request by email. The line is staffed everyday 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Health and Safety

  • Minnesota Department of Health devotes an extensive section of its website to the coronavirus. The site includes the latest updates, specific information about Covid-19 symptoms, recommendations for prevention and more, with fliers and videos in a dozen languages. The department also has a public hotline: 651-201-3920; staff answer every day from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Ramsey County continues to staff its mental health crisis lines 24/7. For adults, call 651-266-7900; for children, call 651-266-7878. Ramsey County also devotes a web portal exclusively to information about accessing county services and facilities during the pandemic.
  • Women’s Advocates is among sources of help for women and children dealing with domestic violence and abuse. In addition to online advice, their crisis line is 651-227-8284.

Finances

  • The state's Department of Human Services has a one-stop web portal for families who need emergency assistance with cash, food (SNAP), child care, or health insurance. To find out what kinds of assistance you might qualify for, use the Bridge to Benefits screening tool.
  • Federal Economic Impact Payment checks are being deposited automatically into bank accounts, loaded onto cash cards, or mailed to eligible taxpayers who filed federal tax returns for either 2019 or 2018. The checks provide $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples, and $500 for each qualifying child. However, if you did not (or were not required to) file a tax return, you must register to receive your check. Prepare+Prosper, a local nonprofit, can help with this and other tax paperwork; call 651-287-0187 or send an email. If you expect to get your check automatically, but have questions, this IRS page might help.
  • Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has a resource page for workers who need unemployment benefits.
  • The Minnesota Department of Veterans is offering two kinds of one-time, $1,000 grants for Minnesota veterans financially impacted by the pandemic. Veterans can apply online or contact their local county veterans service officer or MDVA field operations representative.
  • DEED also has a resource page for businesses. It includes information on emergency loans, critical business exemptions, unemployment, and other needs. In addition, the federal Paycheck Protection Program now is replenished, providing forgivable loans for small businesses and nonprofits that keep their workers employed.
  • Because of the massive number of job layoffs, many utilities -- including Xcel Energy and Saint Paul Regional Water Services -- will not disconnect service for the time being if customers are behind on payments. Minnesota's Energy Assistance Program offers grants ranging from $200 to $1,400, based on household size, income, and fuel costs. Additional funds may be available to pay overdue bills or fix your furnace. To get started, contact the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties online or by calling 651-645-6470.
  • HomeLine offers confidential legal advice, education, and resources around tenant rights, for free or low cost. For example, even though Gov. Tim Walz has suspended evictions, tenants still need to pay rent or make other arrangements if they can't pay right now. HomeLine offers guidance on how to do that. Call 612-728-5767 or email your questions. (Services are also available in Spanish, Somali, and Hmong.)
  • If your income has taken a hit because of the economic crash, home ownership advisors at the local nonprofit NeighborWorks Home Partners can provide guidance and explore options to help you protect your home and open communication with whoever holds your mortgage. Foreclosure intervention services are confidential and free.
  • Saint Paul Public Housing tenants suffering a reduction in income now can get their rent reduced beginning the month immediately after they report their income loss. Tenants must file income redetermination and rent re-adjustment paperwork.
  • Both the state and federal governments have extended the deadline for filing and paying 2019 income taxes. The new deadline is July 15.
  • Ramsey County is extending the deadline to pay property taxes until July 15 for taxpayers who are financially impacted by the pandemic. (Other property owners are urged to pay their first-half installment by the usual May 15 deadline; that helps maintain cash flow for the county, city, and school district.) Check if your property qualifies
  • Saint Paul's Bridge Fund has set up a GiveMN account that is accepting additional donations to increase the number of families and small businesses that can receive grants through the program. More than 5,200 families and 2,100 small businesses applied for grants; money from the city, foundations, and businesses covers only about 20 percent of the requests.
  • The Otto Bremer Trust has established a $50 million emergency fund for nonprofit organizations. Short-term loans, lines of credit, and emergency grants are available. Propel Nonprofits has working capital loans available, plus links to additional financing resources.

Other services

  • To find emergency child care -- especially if you work in an "essential" sector -- call the state hotline, 651-297-1304; the Child Care Aware parent line, 1-888-291-9811; or use this interactive map. School districts and some YMCAs are among those providing options.
  • Metro Mobility is providing free door-to-door service for essential health-care workers, 24/7.
  • Though most city offices are closed to the public, the Department of Safety and Inspections continues to issue permits, conduct investigations, and handle its usual workload. Call 651-266-8989 to make an appointment.
  • Trash and recycling services in Saint Paul continue, mostly as normal. However, Eureka Recycling no longer is accepting clothes or linens in the blue bins. And the Citywide Drop-Off originally scheduled for June 6 at the State Fairgrounds is postponed, likely until September.
  • Ramsey County's yard waste sites are running full schedules: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sundays 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • The Como Community Council's food scraps recycling site remains open 24/7 at 1149 Beulah Lane in Como Regional Park.
  • To promote safer physical distancing, Metro Transit buses are limiting the number of passengers to 10 on a standard 40-foot bus and 15 on an articulated 60-foot bus. Buses' digital route signs will display "Next Bus Please" if the bus is at capacity. Light-rail trains no longer run between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.; buses no longer run between 11 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. In addition, most bus routes are operating on their less-frequent weekend schedule.

Public libraries

  • You can order and pick up books, magazines, movies, and other materials from five Saint Paul Public Library locations: George Latimer Central, Highland Park, Merriam Park, Rondo, and Sun Ray. Library staff will place your materials outside. The Ramsey County Library has “curbside pickup” and offers limited document printing at three branches, including the Roseville site at Hamline and County Road B.
  • The Saint Paul Library has more online resources than you'd imagine -- including e-books, audiobooks, magazines, homework help for students, language and skills courses, and technology assistance. Card-holders can access Ancestry.com for free; to research family heritage, start here. The library’s Little Learners @ Home page features new online programming every week, including stories, song, art projects, movement, and more.
  • A daily story time for children streams live every weekday at 10:30 a.m. on the Saint Paul Library's Facebook page; the Ramsey County Library’s Facebook page streams family stories Mondays and Fridays at 10:30 a.m., and baby stories Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m.

Recreation

  • Saint Paul: All city park buildings, playgrounds, sports courts, and skate parks are off limits. Parks themselves, athletic fields, trails, dog parks, and other open spaces remain open; however, no pickup games, contact sports, or organized teams are allowed. Playgrounds outside Saint Paul Public Schools are closed. McMurray Field in Como Park is closed at least through Memorial Day while new artificial turf is installed.
  • Como Zoo and Conservatory: The buildings are closed, but you can watch a zookeeper or gardener talk live every weekday at 1:30 p.m. on Facebook. The presentations are recorded and available later on the Como Live web page.
  • Ramsey County parks: Playgrounds, ice arenas, picnic shelters, and bathrooms are closed. But parks and trails themselves are open (with portable toilets and trash cans available).
  • Golf courses: In Saint Paul, the Como, Phalen, and Highland National courses are open -- with lots of restrictions. Among them: There are no cart or equipment rentals, tee times must be booked online, clubhouses and pro shops are closed, restaurants are closed, and there are no bunker rakes. Here are the details. Five Ramsey County courses are open with similar restrictions – though you can rent carts for solo use on county courses.
  • Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom: An overlooked place for outdoor social distancing -- or for distinct "distance learning" for you and your family. Using QR codes on 27 numbered posts, you can access historical and natural resource information simply by scanning with a mobile device.
  • Minnesota state parks: Trails, and other public lands are open for day use, such as hiking, biking, boating, and fishing. Bathrooms are open. Campgrounds, visitor and trail centers, and camper cabins and other overnight facilities are closed.
  • State Fairgrounds: The Fairgrounds are closed to outside motor vehicles, but open to pedestrians and bicyclists; enter through the main gate and Snelling and Midway Parkway/Dan Patch.
  • Community Education: Saint Paul Public Schools are offering online adult classes such as cooking, foreign languages, art, at-home fitness, business and technology, and more -- including health and wellness! Use promo code "Spring20" to get a 10 percent discount.

Tech resources for your home (or home work space)

  • As more of us depend on better internet and computer connections at home, scores of broadband and telephone providers have signed on to the Federal Communication Commission’s Keep Americans Connected program. Companies including AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast Xfinity, Cricket, Sprint, T-Mobile , and Verizon are offering low-rate access or service packages, expanding or eliminating data limits, and cancelling late fees and disconnections.

Beyond that, the Saint Paul Public Library suggests these potential sources for affordable hardware.

  • PCs for People: Low-cost hardware and hotspots for qualifying low-income individuals, families affected by school closures, and nonprofits. Purchase online to be shipped (or picked up with an appointment).
  • Tech Discounts: Refurbished equipment (including laptops, desktops, smartphones, routers) available for purchase online with free next-day shipping.

Discrimination

  • Amid rising reports of discrimination toward Asian-Americans, Minnesota has set up a Discrimination Helpline. The toll-free line, 1-833-454-0148, allows those who experience or witness bias or discrimination to report incidents to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. The helpline is staffed weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Saint Paul's Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity also can investigate complaints about discrimination or harassment -- pandemic related or not -- on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, disability, marital status, family status, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or receiving public assistance. Call 651-266-8966 or email the department.

Updated April 24, 2020

District 10 Como Community Council | 1224 Lexington Pkwy N, Saint Paul, MN 55103 | 651.644.3889 | district10 [at] district10comopark.org

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