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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. 

The City of Rochester is not currently in a Red, Orange, or Yellow Zone. However, statewide restrictions still apply.

 

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)

On January 11, 2021, the Paycheck Protection Program reopened for applications. The PPP 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

 

UPDATE: The PPP will now use Gross Income instead of Net Income in the application form to calculate how much self-employed business owners can borrow. For information about the update available in 6 languages, click here.

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. 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 GRANT LIMIT! Senior Meal Program Restaurant Grant

With additional funding approved by City Council in December, the City is launching a 2nd phase of the popular Restaurant Grant program. The program will reimburse participating restaurants up to $24,900 for preparing and delivering free meals to elderly citizens with limited mobility. Phase 2 will include 25 restaurants that were selected through a competitive application process that closed in November.


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.

The City is again 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.

Beginning on January 5th senior citizens can call 211 to place an order, with deliveries beginning January 8th. The program will run through April 30th, 2021.

Emergency Business Retention Grants

This program is currently at full capacity and is not accepting new applications. Please check back for any updates.

Businesses economically impacted by the pandemic are eligible for financial assistance through the City of Rochester’s Business Emergency Retention Grant Program (BERG) Program. Effective January 1st, 2021, applicants are eligible for up to $8,000 per business. Businesses who have received prior assistance, are eligible to receive the difference in grant funding to reach a total grant of up to $8,000.

 

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.

 

ORDER Grant, E-Commerce Support

This program is currently at full capacity and is not accepting new applications. Please check back for any updates.

The City of Rochester is announcing the launch of the new Online Resources Delivering Excellent Results (ORDER) Grant in January, 2021. The grant will provide assistance to businesses who are interested in launching or upgrading web-based ordering, payment, and delivery management systems. These tools have become even more important during the pandemic, helping to sustain businesses with customer friendly options that limit physical contact. Businesses can qualify for up to $5,000 in grant funding towards costs associated with these e-commerce tools. Businesses must be located in the city of Rochester and operating prior to January 1, 2020.

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.

Mayor's Office of Community Wealth Building

This Resource center is dedicated to coaching businesses across the life cycle stages (start-ups, established businesses, retiring businesses, etc.) while facilitating business eco-system. For more information, click here.

Curbside Pickup Zones

By converting on-street parking spaces in front of restaurants into 15-minute parking zones, you can make food/retail pickup easier for your customers. Zones are subject to review and approval. If you’d like this made available for your business, contact Erik Frisch at Erik.Frisch@CityofRochester.gov.

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.

ESL Sustaining Small Businesses and COVID-19 Relief Grant Program

The deadline to apply has passed. Click the link below for more information.

The Urban League of Rochester administered the SSBCRG program for eligible businesses. The program supports small businesses through direct and immediate assistance to combat the impact of COVID-19 and to connect these individuals with the knowledge, tools, and resources for long-term stability and growth. Click here for more information.

 
 
 

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​​

Homelessness Response/Emergency Shelter

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.

For Renters

On 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.

 
 
For Homeowners and Landlords

Mortgage Relief

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.

 

Foreclosure Prevention: 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. 

 

Tax Agreements: 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. 

Emergency Assistance Program Grants: The City has allocated an additional $100,000 it received in CDBG funding through the CARES act to its existing Emergency Assistance Program which provides grants to income-eligible homeowners for emergency issues such as a broken furnace or boiler, and other health and safety hazards. 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.

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 awarded each restaurant with a Restaurant Grant of up to $15,000 to prepare free meals for delivery to area seniors August 2020 through October 2020. During Phase 1, the program delivered 13,741 meals to 1,802 senior citizens

NEW!  Phase 2:

With additional funding approved by City Council in December, the City is launching Phase 2 of the program partnering with 25 city restaurants. Restaurants will be reimbursed up to $24,900 for costs associated with preparing and delivering meals to senior citizens.

The City is again 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. 

 

Beginning on January 5th senior citizens can call 211 to place an order, with deliveries beginning January 8th. The program will run through April 30th, 2021.

 
 
 

Childcare Support

New York Forward Child Care Expansion Incentive Program

The deadline to apply for the latest round of funding was December 31st, 2020. For updates on this program, click here.

The latest round of funding for this program provided $20 million to assist childcare programs 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 included partitions, short term rental of space, etc.

Additionally, $28.6 million in childcare Reopening and Expansion Incentive funds were available to pay for 50% of the cost of up to three newly opened classrooms (maximum grant amount of $6,000) as an incentivize to restore pre-pandemic enrollment. The temporary funds will phase out over the second and third months as more parents bring their children back into childcare.

 

The deadline to apply for this round of funding was December 31th, 2020. For more information, click here.

Child Care Scholarships for Essential Workers

The deadline to apply for the lastest round of funding was December 31st, 2020. For updates on this program, click here.

 

Governor Cuomo announced that as of April 20th, 2020, 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.

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.

After School in the Park

Throughout the school year, the City of Rochester R-Center's After School in the Park Program provides an engaging and nurturing environment for city youth in grades K-6. Conveniently located at Cobb’s Hill Park, kids can take in an array of fun fitness, educational and arts activities, get help with homework, enjoy a free hot dinner and best of all, make lasting friendships.

This school year, the program will run from September through June on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Cost is $100 per week for city youth; $85 per week for siblings. The program is also available to youth living outside the city. Interested non-city residents should call for pricing and availability.

After School in the Park Program provides an array of great activities and benefits, including:

  • Full Day Programming (8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

  • Fitness and Arts Activities

  • Healthy Snacks 

  • Homework Help

  • Well-trained and friendly staff

For additional information, click here.

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