I hope you and your loved ones have been staying safe and healthy. Yesterday, I shared updates about our City’s continued work to slow the spread of coronavirus, and I also announced new resources for residents who may need some extra help during this difficult time. I wanted to make sure these updates reached you and your neighbors—and please feel free to share this information with anyone who would find it helpful.
- As of April 3, there have been 10,402 cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and 192 deaths statewide. There have been 1,366 cases in Boston. 130 people in Boston have made full recoveries, and 10Boston residents have died. Our hearts continue to go out to the families and loved ones of those we’ve lost, here in Boston and all across the Commonwealth.
- Importance of social distancing:
- A surge in cases in Massachusetts is expected during the month of April. The next few weeks will be critical in terms of physical distancing and slowing the spread of the virus as much as possible. Residents are urged to stay home and avoid contact with others whenever they can, stay at least 6 feet from other people at all times, wash their hands, and clean and sanitize surfaces frequently. We are asking community leaders, local organizations, and non-profit partners to push this message out to their networks to make sure everyone is receiving this message.
- Housing supports for residents:
- We announced a new Rental Relief Fund to help tenants who fall behind on rent in Boston because of the public health crisis. So far, we’ve identified at least $3 million in city and federal funds that can be repurposed quickly to help tenants who can’t make their rent. This money will be targeted to households that have lost income due to the crisis, and who do not qualify for enough federal relief or unemployment benefits to make it up. The Office of Housing Stability will use its existing networks to get this help to where it’s needed, quickly and fairly. Applications will be available starting Monday, April 6, and you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
- I’m also proud to support state legislation that will put a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures throughout the state of emergency.
- The City has been reaching out to veterans service providers and residential homes in Boston, to help them mitigate any risk and address concerns they have. Veterans and their family members can call 3-1-1 or email email@example.com to be connected to the City’s Office of Veterans Services.
- Hospital capacity:
- We’ve begun construction at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to add 500 beds for treating homeless adults who have tested positive for COVID-19 and need care, but do not require full hospitalization. The City has released a Request for Proposals to secure a partner organization to operate the facility. If necessary, the Convention Center beds will be opened up for hospitals to use for sub-acute COVID-19 patients in the general population.
- These 500 beds will bring Boston’s total number of new beds for homeless individuals to over 1,000. This includes Boston Medical Center’s Newton Pavilion facility, which the City and State are working to re-purpose as a medical facility for homeless residents affected by the coronavirus.
- Small business supports:
- We shared two new resources that will help small businesses during the public health crisis.
- The City of Boston has created a Small Business Relief Fund. Drawing on a combination of city, federal, and private industry contributions it establishes $2 million in grant funding—capable of providing a lifeline to hundreds of local businesses at risk of shutting down permanently due to the crisis. It will be administered as a streamlined version of the City’s Small Business Financing program. Small businesses can begin applying on Monday, April 6.
- We also created a Financial Relief Handbook and FAQ document for small businesses. It’s a resource for navigating both public and private capital programs. It puts information and guidance about all the different programs together in one place.
I encourage you to visit boston.gov/coronavirus to learn more about these resources, and several more we have to offer. You can also call the City’s hotline at 3-1-1, as well as receive important updates by texting “BOSCOVID” to 99411.
Please stay tuned for more updates and resources in the days to come. We continue to work, around the clock, with partners in government, healthcare, and the community to slow the spread of the coronavirus and support our residents through this difficult time.
Thank you for doing your part,