The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of life throughout the world, including in Alabama. By the middle of May 2020 there were 10,700 people with COVID-19 and 450 deaths. Businesses have had to shut down or change hours and workers have seen their income decrease or outright disappear. While it seems like it may be a while before life goes back to normal, the government at the federal, state and local level is taking steps to help people through. One of the best things you can do to manage your finances is to find a financial advisor to help you plan and protect your savings.
Alabama Coronavirus Relief for Individuals
Alabama has a number of programs dedicated to helping individuals who have been impacted by the crisis.
The most basic service Alabama is offering is a simple website, Altogether Alabama, with all the pertinent information Alabamans might need.
Alabama has modified its unemployment rules to make it easier for people impacted by this crisis to apply for unemployment. Anyone who is quarantined, laid off or diagnosed with COVID-19 — or anyone caring for someone with the disease — is eligible for up to three weeks of unemployment at up to $275 a week. File a claim here.
Alabama Power Payment Assistance Programs
Programs are available to help Alabama residents who need help paying their power bill.
Alabama Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses
Alabama also has programs in place to help small businesses that are struggling because COVID-19 has impacted their finances.
Impacted Business List
Alabama is creating a list of impacted businesses in the state where business owners can register that they have been hit by the pandemic. This will allow your business to be shared with potential customers, who may be able to patronize you or help in another way. Get on the list here.
Birmingham Small Business Loan Fund
Businesses in Birmingham can apply for a loan of between $10,000 and $25,000, paid back at 0% interest over 180 days and with a rate of between 3% and 5% after that. The first round of applications is closed but there may be more loans given out in the future. Get added to the mailing list here.
West Alabama Small Business Fund
Businesses with between 2 and 50 employees in the following counties are eligible for this fund: Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale Lamar, Marengo, Pickens, Sumpter and Tuscaloosa. Apply for a loan here.
Auburn Interest Subsidy Program
This program in the city of Auburn will pay the interest on loans taken out by local small businesses of up to $25,000. This is the list of participating lender, and you can contact them for an application.
Revolving Loan Funds
Revolving loan funds are available for the following regions:
- North Alabama, serving the following counties: Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Morgan, Cullman, Jackson, Marshall and DeKalb. Apply here
- Alabama-Tombibbee, serving the following counties: Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Marengo, Monroe, Perry, Sumter, Washington and Wilcox. Apply here.
- Central Alabama, serving the following counties: Autaga, Elmore and Montgomery. Apply here.
- East Alabama, serving the following counties: Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Etowah, Randolph, Talladega and Tallapoosa. Apply here.
- Lee-Russell Council of Governments, serving Lee and Russell counties. Apply here.
- NARCOG Small Business Fund, serving Cullman, Lawrence and Morgan counties. Apply here.
- South Alabama, including the following counties: Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile, Apply here.
- South Central Alabama, serving the following counties: Bullock, Butler, Crenshaw, Lowndes, Macon and Pike. Apply here.
- ]Southeast Alabama, Serving the following counties: Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry and Houston. Contact information here.
- TARCOG Revolving Loan Fund, serving the following counties: DeKalb, Jackson, Limestone, Madison, and Marshall. Request information here.
- West Alabama, serving the following counties: Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Pickens and Tuscaloosa. Apply here.
Federal Programs for Individuals
The federal government is also looking to help people deal with the COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn. The most direct help is the personal stimulus check most Americans can expect to receive. Many have already gotten their check, though some are still waiting. These checks are part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law in March. The program is means tested, so the amount of money you get is determined by how much money you listed as income on your last tax return.
An individual’s check can be for up to $1,2000, while married couples can get up to $2,400. This maximum check will go to individuals earning less than $75,000 and married couples with combined income of less than $150,000. Your total stimulus goes down as your income goes up, with the cutoff for getting a check at all set at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for married couples.
The CARES Act also has enhanced unemployment benefits for anyone who loses a job during the crisis. It guarantees 39 weeks of unemployment are guaranteed, 13 more than is available in many stares. There is also a $600 federal unemployment booster to each unemployment heck through July 2020. The government is also guaranteed paid sick leave to anyone who has to miss work because of the virus.
Federal Programs for Businesses
The federal government also established programs to help businesses who have been impacted by the pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program, for instance, lets businesses with less than 500 employees borrow up to 2.5 times their payroll (minus any total salary over $100,000 for an individual earning more than that), with a $10 maximum loan. PPP loans are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) at 100%. Some of the money — the equivalent of eight weeks of payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities — is forgivable, provided the firm’s fulltme headcount and payroll stay the same as they averaged between February 15 and June 30, 2019 (January 1, 2020 and February 15, 2020 if your business was founded this year.) That portion of the loan essentially becomes a grant. You can apply for a PPP loan through a local lender, but know that the federal government has announced all the money allocated for these loans has been used, so it may be difficult unless more money is apportioned.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans are another option. EIDLs are administered by the SBA and are available for up to $2 million in any area where an economic disaster has been declared. There is a 3.75% interest rate for businesses and a 2.75% interest rate for non-profits. The term of the loan can be for up to 30 years. Apply here.
Businesses with existing SBA loans are getting automatic debt relief, with the SBA covering all payments including principal, interest and fees for six months. Check with your lender to make sure your loan is covered.
If you need money while you wait for your EIDL funds to come through, consider an express bridge loan of up to $25,000. This money can help you make it until the bigger loan comes through, and the EIDL money is used to pay it back. Apply with a local lender.
The Bottom Line
Alabama and the federal government are working to help individuals and businesses that are struggling because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. If you or your small business need help, make sure you look at all the programs available to find the one that is going to be most effective for your individual situation.
Tips for Managing Your Finances During the COVID-19 Crisis
- A financial advisor can help you through this crisis and beyond. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors who will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- For a comprehensive list of the programs available to small businesses, check out our guide to coronavirus relief for small businesses.
Photo credits: ©iStock/Anton Litvintsev, ©iStock/Alexxandre Bonato, ©iStock/kovop58