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Federal Shutdown Assistance Portal

It is unconscionable that the federal government has shut down over the border wall. Montgomery County is  home to thousands of federal employees and contractors. The loss of income not only impacts these workers and their families but our local economy. It’s imperative that the government reopen so these residents can get back to work. I want these workers to know they have my full support during this trying time. To that end, I implore landlords and business-owners, who may also be feeling the effects, to develop compassionate workarounds to help the federal employees and contractors affected by this unacceptable situation.

signature of marc elrich

Marc Elrich
County Executive


Health & Human Services (HHS)

Food Supplement Program (SNAP/Food Stamps)

The Food Supplement Program helps individuals buy the food they need for good health.  The amount of food supplement applicants are eligible for is based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Thrifty Food Plan.  Some income verification requirements are being waived and this change will remain in effect until the federal government restores funding and individuals receive a paycheck.  Visit  https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us.

Senior Lunch Program

Federal workers, age 60 and over, who are affected by the government shut down and are not able to afford adequate food, are welcome to weekday lunches for a voluntary contribution at congregate lunch sites throughout the County. For location information, call 240-777-3810 or visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/hhs-program/ads/adsseniornutr-p190.html .

Energy Assistance Program

The Energy Assistance Program provides financial help to pay heating costs and electric bills. 
For more information, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS-Program/Program.aspx?id=SNHS/SNHSUtilityA-p746.html.

Temporary Cash Assistance Program

The Temporary Cash Assistance Program (TCA) provides cash assistance to needy families with dependent children.  To apply, visit https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us. For more information, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS-Program/Program.aspx?id=CYF/CYFPubA-TCA-TDAP-p346.html.

Emergency Eviction Prevention

The Emergency Eviction Prevention Program provides crisis intervention assistance to qualified individuals and families. Includes emergency financial assistance to families and adults at high risk of losing housing (eviction, foreclosure).  Help may also be available for overdue utility payments.  Visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS-Program/Program.aspx?id=SNHS/SNHSEMEvictionPrevent-p745.html for more information.

Crisis Center

The Crisis Center provides crisis mental health services 24 hours a day/365 days a year.  Services are provided by telephone (240-777-4000) or in person at 1301 Piccard Drive in Rockville (no appointment needed).  Visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS-Program/Program.aspx?id=BHCS/BHCS24hrcrisiscenter-p204.html.

Rockville’s Financial Assistance Program Can Help in an Emergency

Help with a financial crisis may be available through the Rockville Emergency Assistance Program (REAP) to help Rockville residents facing eviction, or utility shut-off, or to cover prescription costs. Referrals for emergency food, clothing, financial/employment counseling and other assistance are also provided.

For more information on REAP, including eligibility requirements, visit  www.rockvillemd.gov/reap.


Education

Montgomery College

  • Families affected by the shutdown who did not apply for financial aid can still do so.  We still have some institutional grants available if they have financial need. If they are awarded loans and the shutdown ends before the loan is disbursed, it can be canceled.
  • Students can also apply for emergency assistance through the MC Foundation, but funding is limited.
  • Although the Dept. of Education is funded and federal aid is not affected, some federal processes related to the FAFSA are affected. We have workarounds for issues involving financial aid processing. Students will be able to register for spring semester and maintain their place in classes.
  • Families can use the MC payment plan https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/paying-for-college/payments/options.html, or contact Accounts Receivable if they have payment issues related to the shutdown.
  • Foundation Emergency Assistance: The MC Foundation will continue to consider emergency assistance on a case-by-case basis as funds are available.  During the fall semester, we provided emergency support for rent, food, and transportation for students.  
  • Talk to us! Students with problems due to the shutdown should self-identify to the correct office.  If you have a problem completing a financial aid application, talk to financial aid.  If you have difficulty making your next payment (due to the shutdown) contact Accounts Receivable. 

Workforce Development / Employment Services

WorkSource Montgomery (WSM) focuses on linking local and regional economic development and workforce efforts, and serves job-seekers at its two American Job Centers in Montgomery County, at Wheaton and Germantown, as well as at the East County Regional Services Center. WSM can provide assistance for individuals who are applying for unemployment benefits and offers a wide array of career preparation clinics and workshops, including an upcoming session on surviving a layoff. Visit worksourcemontgomery.com.

Food Services

For Montgomery County residents who are being affected by the government shutdown, this may be the first time they are experiencing financial difficulties and are unable to purchase food.  Montgomery County government has many community partners that provide free nutritious food for families in need.  Interested parties may call  311  and be referred to a food assistance provider nearby, or they may access the  MC311 site directly and search for emergency food assistance providers in their area.  Another resource is the  Montgomery County Food Assistance Directory  which lists non-profit organizations where families can receive food.   Some organizations provide diapers, baby formula and other emergency supplies in addition to food.   In response to the government shutdown   The Capital Area Food Bank is holding five Pop-Up Markets this Saturday January 12 at different locations, and  Manna Food Center has lifted income eligibility requirements to obtain food.  Also note that Free and Reduced Meals for children at Montgomery County Public Schools are available and families may submit the application at any time.  Online applications are processed immediately.  Here is the link to the  MCPS FARMS Application

MCPS provides meals for students impacted by government shutdown through dine with dignity program

Launched in November 2018, the Dine with Dignity program allows students with negative account balances to enjoy traditional breakfast and lunch choices at no cost. Families will be asked to pay off, or to contribute within their means when they can, toward the outstanding balance on their student’s lunch account; the Dine with Dignity Fund pays the remainder. Community members who would like to contribute to the Dine with Dignity Fund can donate online at: https://www.mcpsfoundation.org/pages/our-programs/dine-with-dignity-program.


Nonprofit Partners

Montgomery County Food Council

  1. Here is the link to our Food Assistance Resource Directory. You can download and print copies of the brochure in English and Spanish, as well as a "Regional Directory" that lists providers by zip code. Please share these resources widely by email or in hard copy. The Directory indicates those food assistance providers that do not ask for any documentation regarding income eligibility, which would especially benefit those on furlough. Updated versions of these documents (as well as an online database) will be released in the next week or so, and I will forward that information when it is available.  
  2. Please note that applications for Free and Reduced Price Meals Programs for children in MCPS schools can be submitted AT ANY TIME during the school year. You can find the application here. Families can participate in this program during financial challenges, and then withdraw from the program as their situation stabilizes.   
  3. Many food assistance providers, such as Manna Food Center, Capital Area Food Bank and Healing and Deliverance Ministry are introducing temporary measures to help those impacted by the shutdown, such as removing income eligibility requirements to receive food, organizing food donation drives, or working to get more food to more providers while the situation continues. Please reach out to them for more information!  

Capital Area Food Bank

Local food banks can be located by accessing the organization’s food bank network at www.capitalareafoodbank.org/get-help/. Use you zip code to find your local food bank for access to food resources.

United Way

United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA) announced the launch of its Emergency Assistance Fund, making available an initial $50,000, which will provide additional capacity to select nonprofit organizations providing vital food, rent and utility assistance which are facing an increased demand for services due to the government shutdown crisis. United Way NCA is calling on the community—both corporate partners and individuals in the region--to join the organization by matching its pledge or contributing. In addition, United Way NCA invites all of those affected to visit its regional network of Financial Empowerment Centers (FEC) for individual financial counseling and guidance.

“Tomorrow will mark the first pay period where federal workers and those who support this work will not receive a paycheck that they desperately rely on to live and these resources will provide some assurance and support for the thousands of individuals in our region affected during this time,” said Rosie Allen-Herring, President & CEO, United Way National Capital Area. “By first providing additional financial support to these non-profit organizations and guiding residents to our Financial Empowerment Centers for one-on-one financial coaching, we want residents to know their United Way stands by them through this crisis.”

Initially, the Emergency Assistance Fund will be directed to the Capital Area Food Bank, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington and Northern Virginia Family Services to support increased capacity to assist with vital needs like food, rent and utilities. To illustrate the need, with 334,000 residents in the Washington region receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (food stamps), the Capital Area Food Bank would need to distribute an additional 12 million meals in February—four times above their usual distribution—should SNAP be discontinued after January, according to current projections. While food assistance programs are typically targeted to lower income families, the increased demand is fueled by a larger audience that now includes furloughed government workers and others impacted by the shutdown.

A report by Governing outlines data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and shows that Maryland accounted for 147,524 Federal Employees, 200,831 in D.C., and 178,222 in Virginia, as of June 2017. In addition to federal workers, individuals who work with smaller contracting firms that directly support the government in providing services such as janitorial, printing, trucking, food and IT, are greatly affected by this shutdown. As a further example to illustrate the impact of the shutdown in the region, according to the 2018 United Way ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Restrained, Employed) report, 38 percent of households in Maryland - 27 percent in Montgomery County and 35 percent in Prince George’s County -were already at or below the ALICE threshold of maintaining a “survival budget” and could not afford basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation and healthcare. Similarly, according to the Virginia ALICE report, 39 percent of VA households are facing financial hardships.

United Way NCA is also encouraging individuals and families affected by the government shutdown to seek financial guidance and one-on-one counseling by visiting one of its four United Way NCA Financial Empowerment Centers (FEC) located throughout the region. Specifically, the centers are located at Prince George’s Community College’s Largo Campus, Skyland Workforce Center in Washington, DC, Fairfax South County Building in Alexandria, VA and Prince William County at the Virginia SkillForce Center in Woodbridge.

The FECs offer direct access to high-quality financial services and guidance in a welcoming, professional environment at no cost to the client. Services include one-on-one financial coaching and budgeting support, personal and business-focused workshops, free tax preparation, housing counseling and more and individuals are encouraged to stop by for support.

In addition, residents are reminded that assistance is also available by calling 2-1-1, a national program, which is managed locally by United Way NCA and its workgroup partners. 2-1-1 is a non-emergency telephone number. Today United Ways’ operate or provide support to over 70% of 2-1-1 call centers nationally and is a critical partner to individual and families to access basis needs support.

Religious Organizations

  • Bethesda congregations along Old Georgetown Road are joining to provide free meals and support services for affected employees.
  • North Bethesda United Methodist Church is offering coffee, doughnuts and Monday morning group sessions to discuss stress and grief, while Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County offers free lunch on Tuesdays, according to the Rev. Jeff Jones, of North Bethesda Methodist Church. 
  • Bethesda United Methodist Church offers free lunch on Fridays.

Shepherd's Table

We are prepared to serve federal workers or anyone in need of nutritious meals or clothing. Their dining room is open every day and all are welcome. For more information visit their web site or call 301-585-6463.

  • Breakfast (Mon-Fri 7:30-8:25 AM)
  • Lunch (Mon-Fri 12-12:55 PM)
  • Dinner (Mon-Sun 6-7:25 PM)
  • Brunch (Sat-Sun 10:30-11:25 AM)
8106 Georgia Ave Silver Spring, MD 20190 (first floor of Progress Place)

Parks & Recreation

Department of Recreation

2019 Summer Camp Registration Payment Plan:
  • $25 deposit at time of registration.
  • Three equal monthly payments for remainder of fee due April 1, May 1 and June 1, 2019.
  • Summer Camp registration begins Tuesday, January 22 at 8:30 a.m.
  • Registration is in person only at any recreation facility or the Recreation Administrative Offices, 4010 Randolph Road, Silver Spring, MD 20902.
  • Proof of Montgomery County residency is required to qualify for summer camp county resident fee.
  • Furloughed employees and contractors should bring a work identification with them.
Free access to self-directed open play including:
  • Open gym activities at recreation centers
  • Use of weight rooms at all recreation facilities
  • Recreational swim at aquatic centers.
  • Furloughed employees and contractors should bring a work identification with them.
To view a list of all recreation facilities and hours of operation,  click here.
To see the open gym schedule,  click here.
Click here for the recreation swim schedule at the  Olney Swim CenterKennedy Shriver Aquatic CenterGermantown Indoor Swim Center and  MLK, Jr. Swim Center.
For more information, call 240-777-6840.

Financial Assistance Available From the Rockville Youth Recreation Fund

A limited amount of scholarships for recreation program fees are available to Rockville residents aged 18 and younger. Financial assistance must be applied for in-person at the time of registration. Limited financial assistance is available for Rockville residents, ages 19 and older, based on income. Call 240-314-8620 for an appointment. For more information, see page 54 of the winter 2018-19 “Life in Rockville” recreation activity guide at www.rockvillemd.gov/life.

Montgomery Parks

Montgomery Parks, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, announces discounts for federal employees currently furloughed. Parks staff is looking forward to welcoming those affected and providing an outlet to reduce stress and engage with nature.

Montgomery Parks’ four nature centers and Brookside Gardens continue to be free and open to the public with  unique programming and engaging opportunities. In addition, our Ice Rinks, Tennis Centers, Driving Range, and Permits Office will be offering furloughed government employees discounts, including:

Federal Employees will need to show valid ID to receive the discounts at Montgomery Parks facilities.

Please check  Montgomery Parks’ Weather Alerts page for potential closures due to inclement weather this weekend.

City of Gaithersburg

The Mayor and City Council have authorized City Manager Tony Tomasello to waive fees for select programs during the period of the shutdown. Federal employees and contractors from affected agencies can receive free walk-in daily admission to the City’s Fitness Centers at the Activity Center at Bohrer Park and the Benjamin Gaither Center, and to the Gaithersburg Aquatic Center. Fees will also be waived for drop-in participation for Pickleball and Open Gym Basketball at the Activity Center. Children of impacted employees may also take advantage of the amenities and services at the Olde Towne (for middle and high school students) and Robertson Park (middle school students only) Youth Centers at no charge. An ID and completed waiver will be required to receive all City benefits.

Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum

The Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum at Martin State Airport is offering free admission to furloughed government employees during the government shutdown period. When visiting the Museum Wednesday through Saturday, 11am to 3pm, furloughed employees show a federal employee ID, and then employee and family receive free admission so all can spend a day exploring Maryland's aviation history. The Museum, celebrating 90 years of aviation manufacturing in eastern Baltimore County, is located at 701 Wilson Point Road, Hangar 5 in Middle River, MD 410-682-6122. visit www.mdairmuseum.org.


Public Library

Montgomery County Public Libraries Reminds Federal Employees Affected by the Shutdown about the Many Library Services Available in Person and Online

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) has many free services and resources that those affected by the federal government shutdown may find beneficial, including:

  • Wi-Fi in all 21 branches
  • Public computers (all branches except for Noyes Library for Young Children)
  • Programs for children and adults
  • Online classes/learning tools
  • Music and movies to stream
  • Job search and resume writing programs
  • Laptops to borrow for inhouse use (all branches except for Noyes Library for Young Children)

Need a library card?  Get your card immediately; register in person at any branch, bringing proof of address and a photo ID.  You may bring a completed printable registration form ( Spanish), but it is not required.


Unemployment Insurance

Eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits cannot be determined until you actually file an initial claim.  If you are unemployed or working part-time, file your claim as soon as possible, as your eligibility begins the week in which you file your claim. Your claim becomes effective the Sunday of the week during which you apply for benefits. 

What information do I need to have before filing a claim? You will need to have:

  • Your name, Social Security number, address and telephone number;
  • If you are claiming dependents, you will need their names, birth dates and Social Security numbers; and
  • The name, complete payroll address, telephone number and reason for separation for each employer you worked for in the 18 months prior to filing your claim.
  • If you are not a citizen, proof of your alien status
  • If you were in the military within the last 18 months, your DD214, Member 4.
  • If you worked for the Federal Government, your Form-50 or SF-8 if available  

The Division of Unemployment Insurance conducts almost all business by telephone. All Claim Centers take claims by telephone only, every Monday through Friday, excluding State holidays. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. ET to 2:00 p.m. ET. Please file your claim in the claim center located closest to your home.

College Park Claim Center
301-313-8000
1-877-293-4125 (toll-free)

Claims may be filed by telephone or at  mdunemployment.com or by telephone.  The Prince George’s Claim Center is located in College Park by calling 301-313-8000 or toll free at 1-877-293-4125.

Helpful Links

Spend Time Volunteering

For those who may not be struggling financially, but who want to help out, Rockville has dozens of  volunteer opportunities available.

Utility Partners

WSSC

In an effort to assist federal workers struggling to make ends meet as the government shutdown hits 19 days, WSSC today announced it will suspend all water service shutoffs to ensure safe, clean water continues to flow to customer’s homes. Additionally, the state’s largest water utility serving 1.8 million residents in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will waive late fees and work one-on-one with customers impacted by the shutdown to establish convenient payment plans.

“Today’s announcement is made out of compassion for our customers struggling to pay their bills as the federal government shutdown continues,” said WSSC Commission Chair T. Eloise Foster, speaking on behalf of the WSSC Board of Commissioners. “We are happy to offer assistance to our customers in this time of need.”

“Continuing to provide essential water and wastewater services will ensure the health and well-being of those WSSC customers impacted by this shutdown,” said WSSC General Manager and CEO Carla A. Reid. “I’m hopeful these assistance measures will provide relief to customers worrying about when they will get paid.”

In addition to these new assistance measures targeted to customers impacted by the federal shutdown, WSSC offers a variety of affordability programs to help customers in need. Customers are encouraged to contact WSSC and speak with a representative at 301-206-4001 or 1-800-828-6439 to discuss their specific situation.

Existing customer affordability programs include:

  • The Water Fund: The Water Fund provides a maximum of $300 annually to help residential customers who are experiencing financial hardship pay their WSSC bills. The Salvation Army in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties administers The Water Fund. For More Information: www.wsscwater.com/iep.
  • CAP: Customers already enrolled in the Office of Home Energy Program (OHEP) qualify for CAP, which waives the Account Maintenance and Infrastructure Investment fees. Customers only pay for their water and sewer usage. For more information: www.wsscwater.com/cap.
  • The Bay Restoration Fund Financial Hardship Exemption Program: This program waives the state-mandated Bay Restoration Fee. To qualify for the exemption, customers must be certified by OHEP or meet certain criteria. If you qualify for WSSC’s CAP program, you automatically qualify for this exemption. For more information: www.wsscwater.com/bayexempt.
  • HomeServe Cares is a fund administered by HomeServe USA to aid qualifying WSSC customers faced with a plumbing emergency who do not have a HomeServe service plan or the necessary funds to cover emergency home repairs. Under the program, emergency repairs are made at no cost to the homeowner. For more information: www.wsscwater.com/homeserve.

Pepco

Through  Pepco’s Gift of Energy program, anyone can make a payment towards a friend or family member’s energy bill.  The gift will appear on a future bill as a credit to the recipient’s account

Washington Gas

Washington Gas announced Tuesday that it will offer flexible payment plans for families affected by the shutdown. Other programs include budget plans, payment deferments and the WAFF/Washington Area Fuel Fund.  See the  news release  for particulars. The utility advises customers to contact Washington Gas customer service at 1-844-WASHGAS to discuss their individual situations.

Banks

 

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