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.

  • Power and utility bills. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program (EHEAP) help Hillsborough County residents pay for energy bills so they don't have to choose between electricity and groceries. Assistance is provided for as long as program funds are available.
  • Rental payments and mortgages. Hillsborough County offers limited rental payment assistance to eligible households, home mortgage (no foreclosures), apartment rent, mobile home, lot rent, and utilities (if included in the lease.)

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 

Kids

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.