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Resources to help you get through financial burdens during COVID-19 pandemic

JACKSON, Wyo. — If you live in Teton County you have probably experienced first-hand the effects that a global pandemic has on a small mountain town which relies heavily on tourism. Whether you are out of a job or struggling to find health insurance, you are not alone.

Buckrail has compiled a list of resources to help lessen the financial burden that comes with the closures of bars, restaurants, mountain resorts, and many other businesses that survive off of the tourism economy in Jackson.

I’m out of a job, what can I do?

One22 is helping residents with financial burdens by providing emergency assistance in times like these, with the help of the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole. They are offering temporary aid to eligible households and individuals who are facing severe financial difficulties due to unexpected circumstances. Learn more about this resource by going to their website or applying for COVID-19 relief online or calling 307-739-4500 .

The Community Foundation is helping nonprofits, like One22, who are directly helping those in need. So far, donors have raised $1.4 million toward the Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund.

“The steps that are being taken ahead of the onset of COVID-19 in Teton County demonstrate our community’s generous spirit and strong partnerships,” stated Laurie Andrews, President of the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole. “Jackson is a resilient community, and we will withstand this situation together.”

As far as state-wide assistance, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services has 20 locations across the state. If you need immediate assistance, you can file a claim online with the unemployment insurance program or call 307-473-3789. A list of all Wyoming Workforce Center locations is here including the Jackson Workforce Center.

Many restaurants and cafes are forced to close their doors and offer curbside pickup or delivery. Photo: Buckrail // Nick Sulzer

Finding another job

The internet is one of the best resources to find the most current job postings and who is hiring. Buckrail has a list of jobs that are updated weekly from local Jackson businesses. This is also a resource for submitting job openings if you run a business and are looking for some extra help.

Grocery stores are some of the most impacted businesses during this time. If you are looking for work, the links below will direct you to all of the open positions with Jackson’s grocery stores.

As far as state-wide resources, WyomingatWork.com specializes in finding employment in Wyoming. Department of Workforce Service specialists is available to help you navigate this. You can call them at 307-473-3789, but you might be put on hold. Workforce Centers have been getting a high volume of calls.

Assistance in paying rent and bills

There are several housing organizations around the state that can offer guidance in securing rent assistance. You can find some resources throughout the state at rentassistance.org/wyoming-programs.html. A list of housing counseling agencies approved by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development is also available on the HUD website to help guide you through in the scenario that your bank or lender is not offering mortgage forgiveness or if you lose your home.

Along with great advice on how to live affordably in Jackson, the Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust provides sale and resales of 120 homes in Jackson Hole. You can apply for affordable housing as long as you work 30 hours per week in Teton County.

Lower Valley Energy is committed to keeping the power on in Teton County and has made paying your energy bill easier by allowing payments through phone, email, or even through their app. Call their office at (307) 733-2446 if you have any questions or concerns with your energy bill.

Verizon Wireless is waiving late fees from March 16 to May 16 for customers experiencing pandemic hardships. They will not terminate customers who have been impacted by the virus during that time. Call their customer service team or visit verizonwireless.com/support if this applies to you.

The company is also offering free international calling to countries identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as level 3 impacted by the coronavirus, through the end of April. Verizon is also waiving activation fees on new lines and upgrade fees.

What about health insurance?

You can apply for health insurance on the federal marketplace at enrollwyo.org. The website will take you through different steps to choose the health insurance plan that fits you best based on your financial income and health needs. The open enrollment period is over, but there may still be affordable options for you.

The federal Medicaid website offers guidance for anyone who may have lost their health insurance coverage, particularly for children. Log on to insurekidsnow.gov and see what suits you. Your local 211 is also available to help connect you with resources in your community.

Owning a small business 

The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce has been hard at work compiling resources for local business owners and sharing information with the community.

The Wyoming Small Business Development Center has experts available to help guide you through the process of securing assistance, along with a variety of resources to help you find grants to secure your finances during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Small Business Administration also offers some loans of up to $2 million at 3.75 percent interest rates over 30 years. (Nonprofits are eligible for the same deal at a 2.75 percent interest rate.) The breadth of the lending program could potentially be expanded with a new round of funding from the U.S. Congress. You can learn about the various grant options at sba.gov, email the organization at [email protected], or call 1-800-659-2955. One note: These do not operate in a similar fashion to traditional small business loans — they are forgivable, processed through private lenders and can be used to cover your employees’ salaries, rent or mortgage payments without incurring any debt.

Staying open and having trouble finding customers? Facebook is planning to offer up to tens of millions of dollars in business support and advertising credits to help companies extend their reach during social isolation. You can sign up for updates on that effort at facebook.com/business/boost/grants.

You can contact your Wyoming Business Council regional director for help too.

The streets of Jackson have been empty as many experts are recommending to stay home and social isolate. Photo: Buckrail // Nick Sulzer

Nonprofit support

The Wyoming Nonprofit Network offers a number of resources to help identify funding resources and offer guidance during the crisis. There are also some organizations that can assist you in providing for clients in instances where there may be funding gaps. One such organization is the Wyoming Rapid Response Fund, which operates out of Sheridan but serves nonprofits in counties across the state. (Note: You need a referral from a case manager to access these funds)

The National Institute on Nonprofits also offers resources specific to COVID-19 at councilofnonprofits.org.

Finding food

The community of Jackson has several options when it comes to finding cheap or free meals during the pandemic. Some options are meal pickups for people under 18 from Hole Food Rescue, meals on-site along with a food pantry at the Good Samaritan Mission, and even help with financial assistance in purchasing food from the Wyoming Department of Family Services.

Hole Food Rescue offers a list of all local food assistance available with phone numbers and locations.

Hole Food Rescue is offering food assistance during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Hole Food Rescue/Orijin Media

Social Media Groups

Connecting with the community through social media has shown to be one of the best resources for support in a situation like this. Many residents have become active offering or receiving help from Facebook groups like Teton County CAREmongering. Be advised, the Community Foundation and Teton County Health Department are encouraging people to only volunteer through designated channels, but moral/emotional support is always allowed.

Other pages like We Are Jackson Hole offer information regarding the latest COVID-19 updates and advice on the best ways to keep healthy. Recently, they have posted about giving out free hand sanitizer at grocery stores and the high school.

Staying Healthy

Staying healthy should be at the top of everyone’s priority during the coronavirus outbreak. Adhering to experts’ recommendations on preventing the spread of COVID-19 will help lessen the gap between now and the eventual re-opening of businesses. Don’t forget to follow these steps to help keep yourself and our community healthy.

  1. Avoid contact. Maintain a distance of 6 feet from others.
  2. Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer if you touch someone or something touched by someone else.
  3. If you feel sick, stay home. If you have symptoms like high fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call St. Johns Health for a phone evaluation at 307-739-4898 option 3.
  4. Work from home if you can. Do not go to work if you feel sick in any way.

If you are unsure of how to keep sane while social distancing, the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce has a guide to social distancing with ways you can be active while maintaining a safe and healthy community. The Chamber’s website also has useful information for events, businesses, and travelers that are affected by the virus.

No matter your financial situation, these are trying times for everyone. Remember that you are not alone, and your local, state and federal resources are here to provide support.

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