Our community is working to assist those impacted by COVID-19.
During this time, income items have changed, including the tax filing deadline, who is eligible for unemployment, and passage of the CARES Act.
For those who are experiencing unemployment, you should know that the North Carolina rules associated with unemployment have changed to include:
- The one-week waiting time no longer applies
- Workers do not have to prove they are looking for a job
- Unemployment support is now available for those who still have work but have lost hours
You can apply for unemployment only by phone at (888) 737-0259 or online at des.nc.gov/apply-unemployment. Expect long waits.
If you are unemployed with student loans, all student loan interest rates will drop to 0% for the next 60 days, and you can ask to have your loan payments stopped. For more information visit www.ed.gov.
NC Works Career Center
Offers help for those seeking jobs as well as helping to apply for unemployment benefits. Both services are still available. The Buncombe NC Works Career Center is not open to the public; career counselors and staff are available, and services are being provided by phone. Call (888) 737-0259 or visit www.ncworks.gov
Pisgah Legal Services
They have a comprehensive resource page with information about dealing with unemployment during COVID-19, and attorneys who can provide advice by phone to those needing legal help. Connect with them online or call (800) 489-6144 or watch their recent webinar on Unemployment Benefits During COVID-19.
The tax deadline of April 15 is postponed until July 15, 2020, and a number of penalties for not meeting tax-related deadlines have been waived. In-person, free tax assistance is not available, but taxes can still be filed at no charge through www.myfreetaxes.com for eligible households. The IRS has established a special section on steps to help taxpayers, businesses, and others affected by the coronavirus at www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
NC Department of Revenue
Like the Federal government, NC has extended the filing deadline for state taxes until July 15, and a number of penalties for not meeting tax-related deadlines have been waived. The NC Department of Revenue (NCDOR) is still providing service and encourages those needing assistance to use their online resources at www.ncdor.gov.
Buncombe County/City of Asheville
Service fees for property tax credit/debit card payments will not be added to online transactions beginning as long as the Tax Collections office is closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For more information visit Buncombe County Tax Assessment and Collection at www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/tax.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) passed on March 27, includes direct payments to individuals. What people receive will depend on income, as follows:
- Single people earning below $75,000 will get $1,200
- Married couples earning below a combined $150,000 will get $2,400
- Parents will receive $500 for each child under age 17
- A reduced amount will be available for individuals and couples making more than $75,000 and $150,000 respectively. But there will be no payments for individuals earning more than $99,000 or couples earning more than $198,000
Eligibility is primarily determined by tax returns, as follows:
- Someone who did not file a tax return in 2018 (e.g. a student), must file a 2019 return to qualify
- Individuals receiving Social Security benefits are on file with the government, and payments will be based on those records
- People who have filed income tax in 2018 and then moved, and have not yet filed for 2019, will face a delay
People who have previously received a tax refund through direct deposit will receive their money first (possibly within 3 weeks); those who received their tax refund through the mail will have a longer wait.
Childcare for individuals who are providing essential services is a priority at this time. Any individual who needs to be on the job during this time should be able to get safe, professional and reliable childcare.
Currently those who can use this childcare are:
- Healthcare providers and staff
- Public safety and essential government staff: Police, emergency management, firefighters
- Public school essential personnel: child nutrition staff, maintenance and janitorial, and administrative staff involved in COVID response
If you don’t see the information you need, please call 211.
Guidelines for these services have been developed with community partners operating under Buncombe County’s Emergency Operations Center.
Asheville Parks & Rec Childcare
- For local government, Asheville Housing and municipality essential staff only
- Three (3) licensed childcare sites: Shiloh Community Center, Tempie Avery Montford Complex, and Stephens-Lee Community Center
- Serves ages 5-12 (can accept 40 children at each site)
- Cost: none
- Register for Parks & Rec childcare at forms.gle/Y6buiGMvPHWBebRPA.
47 slots in downtown Asheville.
- Four licensed childcare sites: Oakley Elementary School, Hominy Valley Elementary School, Estes Elementary, and Weaverville Elementary
- Serves ages 3-12; can accept 45 children at each site for a ratio of one certified staff to nine children (1:9)
- Cost: none
- Visit ymcawnc.org/emergency-childcare to register for YMCA childcare.
47 slots in downtown Asheville.
- Licensed childcare center serves ages 0-12 (can accept 12 infants, 12 toddlers, 11 ages 3-5, and 12 slots ages 5-12)
- Cost: $15 per day per child
- Will also accept donations to help support keeping the program running at this reduced rate.
- Register for YWCA childcare at forms.gle/Mj6vatYGdEPnKJHT7.
School nurses from MAHEC will be on hand during drop-off each day to screen staff and children at all sites. All centers were deep-cleaned before opening. All childcare sites will continue to follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and sanitation.
The YMCA is also following guidelines from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the NC Department of Public Instruction for childcare facilities located in schools.
Additional details and resources can be found at www.ncdhhs.gov/covid-19-guidance#child-care. If you have questions, contact CoronaQuestions@BuncombeCounty.org.
Under COVID-19 rules, the NC Courts are closed; therefore, no new evictions or foreclosures will begin court proceedings, as per Buncombe County Court System notification online at www.nccourts.gov/covid-19-coronavirus-updates.
The NC Justice Center has provided useful documents for renters in English and Spanish. Go to www.ncjustice.org/publications to access the materials.
In addition, Pisgah Legal Services has posted information at www.pisgahlegal.org/facebook-live-updates.
You should speak with your lending institution (bank, credit union, etc.) to learn their policies during the COVID-19 crisis. Those with mortgages from Fannie May and Freddie Mac may be able to reduce or suspend mortgage payments for up to 12 months; contact your lender to arrange a plan.
All North Carolina insurance plans—property, health, and car—will not be interrupted due to non-payment while there is an emergency declaration in place. All payments will be due after the declaration has been lifted.
SCAMS AND PRICE GOUGING
Many scams have been reported recently. As a basic rule, do not share your personal information with someone you do not know. If you need to verify if something is a known scam or price gouging, call 2-1-1.
Attorney General Josh Stein has shared information on how to avoid becoming a victim of a scam. Go to ncdoj.gov, and search for Coronavirus Scams Guide.
Known Scams are listed on the NC Department of Justice website, ncdoj.gov/newsroom/columns-alerts.
If you would like to submit a complaint about a business, Call (877)-5-NO-SCAM (1-877-555-7226), or visit the NC Department of Justice website, ncdoj.gov.
If you are the victim of a cyberattack, submit an incident report by visiting the NC DIT website, it.nc.gov.
If you are receiving Robo-calls, report them to the Attorney General’s office by calling 1-844-8-NO-ROBO (1-844-866-7626) or visit the NC Department of Justice website, www.ncdoj.gov/report-robocalls.
Price gouging—or charging too much in times of crisis—is against North Carolina law when a disaster, emergency, or abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services is declared or proclaimed by the governor or a municipality. Under the law, the Attorney General’s office can put a stop to price gouging and seek refunds for consumers who paid too much. The courts may also impose civil penalties against price gougers of up to $5,000 for each violation. The law applies to all levels of the supply chain from the manufacturer to the distributor to the retailer.
Report prices that appear unreasonable to you under the circumstances. It’s helpful if you can provide receipts or photos, when completing your report. Call the NC Attorney General’s office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM (1-877-555-7226) or visit www.ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/price-gouging
Buncombe County and Asheville City are working in partnership to share the current information available regarding operational status and adjustments within homeless services throughout the county.
ART bus service remains fare-free. Buses and the transit station are being cleaned more diligently and frequently. The system has made adjustments and reductions to its schedule on some routes.
- Rte. 170 has been discontinued
- Rte. S6 has been discontinued
- Rte. WE-1 runs once each hour, leaving the station at 40 minutes past the hour.
Assessment of the transit system capacity will happen on a day-to-day basis, and be updated as the situation evolves. Keep up with any schedule changes in any of these ways:
- Download the Transit app to any smartphone.
- Check real-time transit information on Google Maps.
- Dial (828) 253-5691 and press #1.
- Subscribe to iRide Service Alert e-mails at ashevillenc.gov/service/transit-service-alerts.
- Go to RideTheART.com.
Western North Carolina Community Health Services is open, seeing well patients in the morning and sick patients in the afternoon. They are screening everyone at the entrance and seeing some folks outside in their cars if needed. Dental is open for emergencies only (no routine care).
Guidelines for how homeless services providers can connect people experiencing homelessness with available testing, isolation, and quarantine resources are available at www.wncchs.org.
A team of community organizations and agencies have come together to help identify services and resources to help older adults. The following is a list of resources, information, tips and tools that we have checked to make sure is up to date and from reliable sources.
These services are available to area residents by simple request via phone or email. For either service call the Buncombe County Council on Aging at (828) 277-8288.
Transportation for senior citizens who are unable to use public transit systems or drive their own cars. The program uses volunteers with private vehicles to transport clients to appointments. Call 828-277-8288 to schedule a home visit and assessment. You must be age 60 or older, and ride must be scheduled at least 7 days in advance.
Homebound food delivery
Food Delivery is available for low-income, homebound senior citizens without access to transportation. Call (828) 277-8288 to schedule a home visit and assessment. You must be 60 or older, meet income limits, be homebound, and without access to transportation. After assessment is completed, food may be received up to once a month.
At this time no local providers are disconnecting service for non-payment and many late fees have been waived. See “Utilities Respond” for information on water, electric and gas, phone, and internet services.
Please note: These resources are changing as our community responds to COVID-19. For the most up-to-date information visit www.unitedwayabc.org/covid-19-community-resources-buncombe-county.