Getting Help

COVID-19 not only affect your health, it can also affect your finances. Hillsborough County and other community partners are offering resources to help you and your family get through this. If you or your family need assistance with social programs or support, call: 211 or visit the 211 Tampa Bay site.

Jobs & Reemployment Assistance

Florida residents whose incomes are negatively affected by efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 may be eligible for Reemployment Assistance. Find resources

Families 

Financial Assistance

Hillsborough County and its community partners have services to help pay for housing expenses, including home mortgages, mobile homes, rent, and energy bills.

  • R3 Utility and Housing Assistance - Funds to assist residents from experiencing further financial hardship or additional consequences to living conditions by assisting them with a lump sum payment directly to eligible residents to be used for rent and mortgage payments and financial assistance for past-due electric bills

Medical Insurance

The Bristol-Myers Squibb expanded Patient Support Programs. These programs are designed to help newly uninsured patients impacted by COVID-19 coronavirus. The national programs are for eligible, unemployed patients who have lost their health insurance due to the pandemic. The expanded programs offer access to branded Bristol Myers Squibb medicine for free, including some of its most widely prescribed products, as well as those prescribed via telehealth services.

The programs feature:

  • Immediate access for patients who have lost their employment and health insurance
  • A simple, single point of entry
  • Streamlined enrollment process
  • Vouchers to assist with continuity of care for several self-administered BMS medicines, for eligible patients

Hillsborough County residents, interested in learning more about these programs can call (800) 721-8909 or visit BMS.com.

Mental Health Assistance

During these challenging times, mental health is just as important as physical health.

  • Local assistance for mental health support. Anyone can find themselves facing a crisis in life and Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is here to help residents.
  • How to talk to children about COVID-19. The CDC has created guidance to help adults have conversations with children about COVID-19 and ways they can avoid getting and spreading the disease.
  • Managing stress and anxiety for Veterans. Veterans having thoughts of suicide or that need mental help during this time can contact the Veterans Crisis Line by either calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1, texting 838255, or chatting online with Veterans Crisis Line. The free support is confidential and available 24/7.
  • Wellness resources for mental health and wellbeing. The national Disaster Distress Helpline is available to anyone experiencing emotional distress related to COVID-19. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to speak to a counselor. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
  • Tips on how to manage stress. The CDC provides assistance and resources for those dealing with stress during coronavirus pandemic.

Food Assistance 

  • Meals for kids - Kids and teens can still get free balanced meals this summer while schools are closed. Summer BreakSpot locations are a place for kids and teens to grab a free meal with no application necessary. The progarm runs from June 8 - July 31 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM. See participating locations.
  • Food for families and individuals - Feeding Tampa Bay offers a number of different ways to bring food to your table every day, from Breakspot Meal Sites and Senior Groceries to Mobile Pantries and Trinity Café
  • Families in underserved areas of Hillsborough and East Pasco counties also have access to fresh fruits and vegetables through the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA Veggie Van
  • Food for pets - Pet Resource Center offers people who need help feeding pets with its Food Pantry. To receive assistance, call (813) 744-5660
  • Drive-thru grocery distribution - Residents in need of food in the Tampa Bay area can go to the Feeding Tampa Bay's free drive-thru grocery distribution happening every Saturday starting at 9 AM. Tampa Bay area locations are at Hillsborough Community College (Dale Mabry campus) and at Tropicana Field (Lot 4).+
  • Food for COVID-19-affected and low-income residents -The Florida Food Assistance Program helps people who have low-incomes, as well as residents who have recently lost their jobs or experienced a significant reduction in the number of hours they are able to work due to the COVID-19 event, buy healthy food and have access to a healthy diet through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Fresh Access Bucks for SNAP recipients also have local markets in Tampa Bay area open. 

Free Tax Help

The Hillsborough County Extension Service will be offering free tax prep assistance for Hillsborough County residents who can connect through a web-based meeting platform starting April 7, 2020. During the meeting, tax filers will be given access to tax filing software and will receive one-on-one assistance from IRS trained and certified volunteers.

Things to remember:

  • This is a FREE service
  • Appointments are required and must be made in advance
  • Available appointment times: Tuesday through Friday from 9 AM to noon, and 1 to 4 PM.
  • The due date for filing tax returns and making tax payments has been extended to July 15, 2020. You may file a request for an additional tax extension to extend your deadline to October 15, 2020. For more information, email Denise Kantak or call (813)744-5519.

Seniors

Senior meals

  • Seniors who attend dining centers/congregate meal sites, receive services through adult day care centers, or receive home delivered meals, please call (813) 272-5160, for information about the continuation of services.
  • Easy to make recipes from Aging Services

Phone-In Wellness Session 

To help ease those feelings and keep older people healthy, Aging Services is offering virtual phone-in wellness sessions so seniors can stay mentally and physically engaged while at home.

Virtual senior wellness sessions are offered twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday in both English and Spanish.

  • Sessions in English are from 11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
  • Sessions in Spanish are from 1- 2 PM

The Call-in Number is: 1-888-585-9008

Conference Room Number is 784132094#

Each session is broken into segments that feature the following topics:

  • Health and safety tips with a registered nurse
  • Healthy eating tips during stressful times by a registered dietician
  • Updates related to COVID-19
  • Senior resources and links to stay connected
  • Activities focused on the seven dimensions of wellness
  • Mindful meditation or laughter is the best medicine for stress

Senior Fitness

Suspect price gouging?

Under declared states of emergency, Florida's price gouging law immediately takes effect to prohibit extreme increases in the prices of essential items such as food, ice, gas, hotels, and water 30 days before and throughout the duration of the emergency. See a complete list of cancellations and closures.

Residents and visitors can report suspected price gouging or unlicensed contractors by:

College & University Students

Many students may be facing financial challenges associated with higher education. Here are resources:

Farmers Impacted by the COVID-19 Coronavirus

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program application process starts May 26. Agricultural producers will apply through USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA).

How to Prepare Now

You can start gathering information on your farm's recent sales and inventory, as well as completing eligibility forms at farmers.gov/CFAP

Some of the info you'll need includes:

  • Tax Identification Number
  • Farming operating structure
  • Adjusted Gross Income

If you have worked with FSA previously, much of this information is likely on file.

How to Apply Once Sign-Up Begins

  1. Call your FSA county office at (813) 752-1474 ext. 2 to make an appointment.
  2. FSA will not be able to meet in-person, but will work with you via phone, email, fax, mail, or online tools to receive and complete your application. You can contact your Hillsborough County FSA team by email at Hilary.Howard@usda.gov and Marcinda.Kester@usda.gov.

Want to help?

There are various ways to donate.

Medical Supplies

Donate Supplies to First Responders

Give Kits helps you to donate an essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Kit to the people that need it most.

Each Pandemic Medic™ kit contains:

  • (5) Protective Masks
  • (5) Hand Sanitizer Packets
  • (5) Nitrile Glove Pairs

Learn more about GiveKits

Hillsborough County is putting out a plea for donations of medical supplies that can be used to help fight the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. Donations can be dropped off Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Drop-offs must be scheduled in advance by calling (813) 221-6561. 

Medical schools, dental clinics, elective surgery centers, private vendors, residents, and others are asked to donate ONLY the following items:

  • Impervious gowns
  • Face shields
  • Surgical masks
  • N95 masks
  • Tyvek suits
  • Exam gloves

Monetary Donations

Hillsborough County sincerely appreciates your generosity, but we'd like to ask a favor: Please think of local charities and nonprofit organizations first. Those still wanting to donate money to Hillsborough County should follow this process:

• Send checks to:

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue
ATT: Fiscal Team
9450 E. Columbus Drive
Tampa, FL 33619

  • Do not attempt to give a check in person to a County employee.
  • Donations cannot be made through PayPal or any other similar method.
  • Before any monetary donation is made to the County, residents should talk to a professional tax adviser about deductibility and other tax-related questions.