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Resources for Businesses & Community Members

 

New York State Restrictions Update: Micro-Cluster Focus Zones

In an effort to combat COVID-19 New York State has rolled out a new COVID-19 Micro-Cluster Strategy. The initiative divides clusters and the areas around them into three categories with successively higher restrictions within each one: Red Zone - cluster Itself; Orange Zone - warning zone; and Yellow Zone - precautionary zone. 

Portions of the City of Rochester are currently a Yellow Zone, others are in an Orange Zone.

 

For information on zone restrictions click here. To check if your neighborhood is in a hotspot, click here. For more information on regional responses to COVID-19 visit one of the following links:

If you are looking for information on the phased re-opening process following the New York on Pause Order in March 2020, please click here.

Guidance for Business Operation

As businesses begin to open, they will need to take certain precautions to ensure that employees and customers stay healthy. See below for general and specific guidelines for reopening business and organizations. 

General Guidance

Federal 

State

County

Opening After a Prolonged Closure 
Materials and Information by Business Types 

Gyms & Fitness Centers

Restaurants and Bars

Personal services (e.g., barbershops and salons) 

Retail 

Places of Worship 

Manufacturing 

Offices 

 

Financial Assistance for Businesses

Federal Assistance

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tax Relief Resources

  • The Employee Retention Credit is a refundable tax credit against certain employment taxes equal to 50% of the qualified wages an eligible employer pays to employees after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. You can get immediate access to the credit by reducing the employment tax deposits you are otherwise required to make. Also, if your employment tax deposits are not sufficient to cover the credit, you may get an advance payment from the IRS. 

  • Coronavirus-Related Paid Leave for Workers and Tax Credits for Small- and Mid-Size Businesses 

  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (PDF) gives all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee's own health needs or to care for family members. 

  • For more information on all of these programs, visit the IRS website for Coronavirus Tax Relief

 

Federal Reserve Main Street Lending Program

The Federal Reserve has announced that it is establishing a Main Street Lending Program to support lending to small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Program will operate through three facilities:

 

For more information on this program, visit the Federal Reserve Main Street Lending Program webpage

 

U.S. Treasury Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. If employers enrolled in this program keep all their employees on the payroll for eight weeks and the funds provided through the program are used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities the Small Business Association (SBA) will forgive a portion of the employer's loans.

You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program. 

For more information visit the Paycheck Protection Program webpage

Small business owners have until August 8, 2020 to apply for the PPP grant.

 

Small Business Association (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories were able to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.    

 

At this time, only agricultural business applications will be accepted due to limitations in funding availability and the unprecedented submission of applications already received. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will process these applications without the need for re-applying. 

 

For more information visit the SBA Disaster Loan Application webpage

State Assistance

New York Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF) 

NYFLF is a new economic recovery loan program aimed at supporting New York State small businesses, nonprofits, and small landlords as they reopen after the COVID-19 outbreak and NYS on PAUSE. The program is designed to support small businesses with 20 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees (90% of all businesses), as well as nonprofits and small landlords that have seen a loss of rental income. 

 

NYFLF is providing working capital loans so that small businesses, nonprofits and small landlords have access to credit and can cover upfront expenses as they reopen. These loans are available to small businesses, nonprofits, and small landlords that did not receive a loan from either the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for COVID-19 in 2020.  The loans are not forgivable in part or whole. The loans will need to be paid back over a 5-year term with interest. 

     

For more information visit the New York State website.

City Assistance

NEW! Restaurant Grant: Free Home Delivery for Seniors

The City has issued a preliminary Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). The program has yet to be approved and is subject to Rochester City Council and the Department of Housing and Urban Development approvals. In the event the program is not approved, the City of Rochester will not be able to make grant awards. 

 

The City will be seeking to partner with up to 24 city restaurants to deliver meals to area seniors, age 60 and above, who are unable to travel or frequent restaurants due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Neighborhood and Business Development will award Restaurant Grants of up to $24,900 to support selected restaurants in each quadrant of the city that agree to prepare free, meals for delivery to area seniors for up to four months

To receive a Restaurant Grant, restaurants must: operate within the city and be in good standing with all regulatory requirements, including zoning codes, taxes and fees, insurance and fair hiring practices.

 

To learn about the grant or apply, visit cityofrochester.gov/restaurantgrant/

Applications are due November 25.

The City is contracting with Goodwill of the Finger Lakes 211/LIFE LINE Mission program to facilitate the enrollment and delivery process.​ Funding for the program is provided through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Emergency Business Retention Grants

Businesses economically impacted by the pandemic are eligible for financial assistance through the City of Rochester’s Business Emergency Retention Grant Program. If businesses have previously applied or received funds from this program, they are eligible for an average of $3,000 additional. If businesses have not applied or received funding through this program, they would be eligible for a maximum amount of $5,000 in grant funds. Businesses must be operating prior to January 1, 2020. Eligible funding can be used towards unpaid working capital uses that will assist in continuing business operations and retaining employees, including: Rent, payroll, insurance, utility expenses, inventory and other similarly related short-term debt and operating expenses necessary to continue operations. Find the application here. 

Note: The City will be reaching out to provide additional support to businesses that have been impacted by the events of May 30th-31st.

The Kiva Rochester Program

The Kiva Rochester crowdfunding program has expanded its access to interest-free loans to help local small businesses weather the economic downturn triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak. Kiva has increased the maximum loan amount to 15,000 (from $10,000); waived certain financial requirements to expand eligibility; and instituted a new six-month grace period on the first loan repayment. Learn how to apply for a Kiva loan at cityofrochester.gov/kiva 

 

90 Day Loan Deferrals

Businesses that have current loans with the City of Rochester and/or the Rochester Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) are eligible for a 90-day deferral of loan payments. 

Apply for Tax Agreements

The City offers property owners facing financial hardship the ability to pay taxes in installments. To access this option, please fill out an application and provide a few simple documents outlined in the application’s instructions. Please see the Tax Agreement program page here on the City website for more information.

 

Business Research Support

The Central Library, Business Insight Center is here to help. The Library's market research services include proprietary databases to help you research market trends, intellectual property landscapes, patent holdings, registered trademarks and business and financial reports. They can provide you with examples of business plans, industry surveys, and direct mailing lists. They can also refer you to funding sources, entrepreneur assistance programs, and business mentoring. These services are provided at no cost. Requests for research can be made by phone, (585) 428-8130, or email busref@libraryweb.org. There are also in person consultations available by appointment - click here to schedule.

Grant Research Support

The Central Library’s Grant Resource Center has many resources available to help you with grant seeking, including the Foundation Directory Online database. To learn more about the Library’s grant resources call 585-428-8110.  Upcoming programs on grant seeking can be found here.

Additional Assistance

Genesee Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council's Revolving Loan Fund

The Regional Revolving Loan Fund is available for small- and medium-sized businesses needing resources and generally participates with other public and private financing tools for fixed asset loans (eg. acquisition and improvement of land, buildings, plant, and equipment, including new construction or renovation of existing facilities, demolition and site preparation) and working capital loans for the start-up of new businesses or conduct of current businesses. Click here for more information.

NEW!  Monroe County's Fast Forward Monroe Grant Program

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announced that Monroe County is committing $15 million in CARES Act funding to support local small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fast Forward Monroe Small Business Grant Program is a direct response to the Fast Forward Monroe business survey released earlier this year, and will provide financial assistance to small businesses with two to 50 full time employees in the personal services industry, including retail and dining.

Eligible applicants to the Fast Forward Monroe Small Business Grant Program will receive:

  • Up to $10,000 in funding for businesses with between 0 and 2 employees

  • Up to $15,000 for businesses with 3 - 25 full-time employees

  • Up to $20,000 for businesses with 26-50 full-time employees

Click here for more information or to apply for the grant.

 

Housing Support for Renters & Owners

Quick References

For help with:

  • Renters needing Rental Arrears Financial Assistance: Call 2-1-1

  • Renters needing Legal Assistance to help with an eviction: Call the Tenant Defense Project/Right to Counsel Pilot Program at 585-504-6195, or visit tenantdefense.org

  • Homeowners needing help with Foreclosure Prevention: Call The Housing Council at 585-546-3700 x3036, or visit thehousingcouncil.org/foreclosure-prevention

  • General assistance with housing issues: Call The Housing Council at 585-546-3700, between the hours of 9AM and 1PM to speak to a Housing Counselor, or visit thehousingcouncil.org

  • Renters, Landlords, and Homeowners needing information on your rights and responsibilities: Call The Housing Council at 546-3700, or visit thehousingcouncil.org

  • Anyone with a household member with HIV/AIDs: Contact Trillium here or Catholic Charities here​​

For Homeowners & Landlords

The Housing Council and Empire Justice Center have been providing assistance for decades to homeowners behind (or about to be behind) in their mortgage payments. Their services are free and confidential. Contact The Housing Council at 585-546-3700 x3036 or through their website at thehousingcouncil.org/foreclosure-prevention and they can assist with a good path forward.

 

Homeowners not yet in foreclosure but facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 are advised to contact their mortgage servicer as early as possible, either with or without assistance from The Housing Council.  Most mortgage servicers are offering relief to homeowners. Some options include short-term “forbearances” during which payments are paused, to be repaid later. Others include long-term changes to mortgage terms. Some homeowners will benefit from a combination of short- and long-term options. Please visit this page for more information. 

 

For City homeowners experiencing financial hardship, the City of Rochester continues to offer Property Tax Payment Agreements which allows for delayed, as well as, monthly payments. Click here to learn more. 

 

For Landlords: Landlord Reimbursement Grant Program

The City is also seeking landlords interested in applying for grants to make minor repairs to vacant rental units so the units can be added to the city’s inventory of affordable housing units as quickly as possible. The City has set aside $300,000 for the program and expects to support about 150 units. Applications for the grant can be found at: cityofrochester.gov/HomeRepairGrants

 

 

For general assistance navigating housing issues, please call the Housing Council hotline at 585-546-3700, between the hours of 9AM and 1PM to speak to a Housing Counselor, or visit thehousingcouncil.org.

For Renters

March 20, 2020, all evictions across New York State were suspended, and that suspension lasted until October 1, 2020. Evictions are currently being processed by local Courts, but, depending on your situation, you may be protected from eviction for the time being. However, all rent payments during this timeframe are still due as normal and unpaid rent will still be held against the tenant once the moratorium expires, including in eviction court. Tenants are strongly advised to continue to pay their landlord their monthly rent payments if possible. All tenants are able to receive assistance from the Tenant Defense Project dealing with their landlord. For information on your rights and responsibilities, call The Housing Council at 585-546-3700 (or visit thehousingcouncil.org), or call 2-1-1.

At this time, a New York State moratorium and Centers for Disease Control moratorium are still in effect, but these do not apply to all renter households.  In general, a tenant will need to prove to a judge they are behind on rent because of the pandemic, due to either a loss of income or an increase in COVID expenses.  You should not assume that you qualify for protection under the various moratoria, but can inquire about which protections may be available to you by calling the Tenant Defense Project/Right to Counsel Pilot Program at 585-504-6195, or visiting tenantdefense.org.  In addition, those tenants facing financial hardship can request to use their security deposit to pay rent and repay the security deposit over time. More information is available here.

 

We understand that financial situations have changed, jobs have been furloughed or lost, and some may need assistance to help them through this period of time.  There are services available to anyone who is struggling to make rent or utility payments, facing eviction, or simply wants information on what their options are.  However, support is not guaranteed, and access to resources may depend on an individual’s particular housing situation.

 

The City has increased its support to several local eviction and homelessness prevention service providers.  This includes increased funding for services related to housing education, legal assistance, and direct financial assistance. 

 

In general, anyone behind on rent or struggling to pay should:

  • Make a Plan – Make a budget and figure out how much you can pay, and when. For assistance, contact the Rochester Financial Empowerment Center at 585-252-7110.

  • Seek out Resources – Apply for benefits (DHS), and/or search for employment.

  • Stay in Contact and Advocate for Yourself – Talk to your landlord, explain your situation and your plan, and negotiate/ask for time to pay or a payment plan.

Eviction Prevention & Rent Arrears Assistance

  • For those that are behind on rent, worried about eviction due to non-payment, and have received a 14 Day Notice to Pay or Quit or a Notice to Vacate, assistance may be available to you.  You should call 2-1-1/Lifeline or chat on 211lifeline.org to explore eligibility and start an application for financial assistance.  In addition to the City funded initiatives, Monroe County has funded programs to provide rental arrears assistance to those that qualify.  To make the intake, eligibility, and application process easier, all applicants should apply through 2-1-1/Lifeline.  You will be matched with resources that you qualify for.

​​

  • In May and June, City Council approved over $2 million for an eviction prevention program administered by Catholic Family Center to provide emergency rent arrears payments and/or security deposit assistance for income-eligible tenants before they truly become homeless. This legislation dedicated an additional $2.1 million to a flexible fund that will be used to augment this program, based on the anticipated demand for assistance. About $1 million is already dedicated to more traditional homeless services and shelter operations. To learn more about how this program can help you, click here or call 2-1-1.

 

Legal Guidance and Assistance 

  • If an eviction has already been filed and you have a court date set, you may still have access to the resources listed above, and we recommend that you continue to try to secure resources and stay in contact with any services or supports you have engaged.  If you receive a notice from your landlord or from Court, do not ignore it.  Follow up with any instructions on that notice. You can seek answers for any legal questions you may have by calling 585-504-6195 or visiting tenantdefense.org. The City works with LawNY and the Legal Aid Society to help provide guidance and representation to those going through the eviction process. 

​​

  • In May and June, City Council approved the use of $460,000 to fund a “Right to Counsel” pilot program to provide free legal assistance to all renters facing evictions proceedings in the courts, as well as a telephone hotline providing free legal counsel for eviction-related questions. The program will be operated by Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe County, Inc.; The Legal Aid Society of Rochester; and Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. Funding is also being provided by Monroe County. To learn more, contact 585-504-6195 or visit tenantdefense.org.

 

Emergency Shelter and Other Resources

  • Anyone who is at imminent risk of losing their housing, or who finds themselves without housing can contact 2-1-1 for help finding resources related to your housing search, emergency food options, and more.  If you are in need of immediate help and/or emergency shelter options, please contact Monroe County DHS at 585-753-6044, or 585-442-1742 after hours.

 
 

Food & Meal Distribution

Rochester Grab & Go Meal Finder

With schools having closed during the COVID-19 Emergency, the City of Rochester and the Rochester City School District have partnered to serve children pre-packaged breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

 

This app will help you find the closest distribution site by entering your address into the search box or selecting “Use Current Location.” Click here to view the full-screen version of the map.

Foodlink Emergency Food Supply Boxes Program

Beginning June 1, Foodlink will resume drive-through distribution of grocery boxes for families in need of food during this crisis. A typical box may include: pasta, pasta sauce, canned soups, canned vegetables, canned fruits, canned tuna, cereal, and other foods. Some perishable goods – such as dairy products, eggs, and produce – may also be available. Please see Foodlink’s website here for more information on locations and schedules. 

Lifespan Senior Food Delivery

Lifespan of Greater Rochester is distributing food to at-risk elderly homeowners affected by the pandemic. This is funded by the City’s CARES act additional allocation of CDBG funding. For more information, click here to visit their website.

NEW! Free Restaurant Home Delivery for Seniors

Phase 1:

During Phase 1 of this program the City of Rochester collaborated with 20 restaurants to deliver meals to area seniors, age 60 and over, who live within the city limits and were unable to travel to access food due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The City Department of Neighborhood and Business Development has awarded each restaurant with a Restaurant Grants of up to $15,000 to prepare free meals for delivery to area seniors August 2020 through October 2020.

NEW!  Phase 2:

The City has issued a preliminary Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). The program has yet to be approved and is subject to Rochester City Council and the Department of Housing and Urban Development approvals. In the event the program is not approved, the City of Rochester will not be able to make grant awards. 

 

The City will be seeking to partner with up to 24 city restaurants to deliver meals to area seniors, age 60 and above, who are unable to travel or frequent restaurants due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Neighborhood and Business Development will award Restaurant Grants of up to $24,900 to support selected restaurants in each quadrant of the city that agree to prepare free, meals for delivery to area seniors for up to four months

To receive a Restaurant Grant, restaurants must: operate within the city and be in good standing with all regulatory requirements, including zoning codes, taxes and fees, insurance and fair hiring practices.

 

To learn about the grant or apply, visit cityofrochester.gov/restaurantgrant/

Applications are due November 25.

The City is contracting with Goodwill of the Finger Lakes 211/LIFE LINE Mission program to facilitate the enrollment and delivery process.​ Funding for the program is provided through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

 
 

Childcare Support

New York Forward Child Care Expansion Incentive Program

Governor Cuomo announced that $65 million in federal CARES Act funding is now available for child care providers statewide. The funding available:

The funding available includes:

  • $20 million to assist childcare program with reopening and expansion of capacity by providing materials to support a more socially distant model, and for supplies and activities associated with reopening and expansion. This may include partitions, short term rental of space, etc.

  • $45 million in childcare Reopening and Expansion Incentive funds to pay for 50% of the cost of a newly opened classroom (maximum grant amount of $6,000) as an incentivize to open the classroom. The temporary funds will phase out over the second and third months as more parents bring their children back into childcare.

 

To be eligible for reopening funds, child care programs must have either been closed as of June 15 and have a plan to reopen within two weeks of applying or currently operating below their licensed capacity and would like to expand. The grants will be pro-rated as programs reach capacity. Programs must submit a detailed plan for use of funds and must remain open at least through the end of the year. 

 

The maximum awards for the $20 million in Reopening and Restructuring Incentives depend on the size of the program and range from $300 to $1,600 one-time grants. Child care programs may apply to OCFS through July 15. 

Click here for to view the Governor's announcement.

Child Care Scholarships for Essential Workers

Governor Cuomo announced that as of April 20th New York State will provide child care scholarships to all essential workers.

 

"Essential workers" include first responders such as health care providers, pharmaceutical staff, law enforcement, firefighters, food delivery workers, grocery store employees, and others who are needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Child care costs will be covered with $30 million in federal CARES Act funding to essential staff whose income is less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level – or $78,600 for a family of four – and will be paid up to the market rate for each region statewide.

Scholarships are available through the Child Care Council. Click here to find the application.  

Monroe County Department of Human Services Child Care

Families with adults who are working, but are earning lower incomes, might qualify for a daycare subsidy through the Monroe County Department of Human Services (DHS). Families with income levels falling within a specific range are eligible.

To apply for a daycare subsidy please visit the DHS website here, or call the DHS Application Line 585-753-6960 to request a Child Care Application packet. You will be asked to complete the application, child care request, work schedule, and absent parent form (if applicable) and send it to:

Department of Human Services
111 Westfall Rd.
Rochester, NY  14620
Attn:  Team 76 – Child Care

Child Care Council

The Child Care Council can provide free child care referrals to child care programs in Monroe County. To search for a child care program through The Child Care Council, click here.

 

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