COVID-19 Relief Funds Resources and Information

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First, we want to be clear we are not attorneys and this in no ways constitutes legal advice, nor are we financial advisors and this in no way constitutes financial advice.  We have simply gathered information and have tried to condense it into something useful to our members. 

As many of you have heard on the news there have been many programs established for small businesses like yours to get relief through the federal CARES Act passed by Congress on March 27th.  These programs include the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance (EIDL), and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). (Yes, the federal government like their anacronyms!)  Additionally, the State of Washington has created the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grants program.  We will give brief descriptions of the programs here with links to documents/pages with more details for those who want to get in the weeds.

 

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program

If you have applied for unemployment or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through the Washington State ESD please click here to take this short survey on your experience of the application process.

Let’s start with the program that most of our members will likely be accessing for temporary relief funding, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. This program will be run through the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD).  However, ESD indicated applications for the program will not be available until April 18, 2020 -- preventing drivers like us from receiving the financial relief that we so desperately need. Even more disturbing, Even more disturbing, we see news reports indicating find out that ESD is setting up a complicated application process and using us as a pawn in a years long disagreement fight about data between ESD and members of the business community. These actions could threaten our status as independent contractors and prevent us from getting federal relief through the SBA and other agencies.

It does not have to be like this! In California, Governor Newsome is setting up a program that gig-workers like us can self-certify our status as independent contractors and have access to the PUA funds within 24-48 hours. Washington must do the same!

We need to urge Governor Inslee, and your State legislators to tell ESD to set up a clean and efficient self-certification process -just like the one our colleagues in California will have - to allow us to file for assistance as an independent contractor, and to not use our relief funding as a political football. Please go to our action page to tell Governor Inslee how you feel.

As of now we still only know what we know and don’t know what we don’t know. So here is a rundown of information we know about the program including eligibility, application process, payment amounts, and other items.

  • PUA provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to qualifying individuals beginning retroactively on or after January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020
  • PUA will include individuals not eligible for regular unemployment benefits like self-employed individuals, part-time workers, or workers with limited work history.
  • PUA funds will be distributed through the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD)
  • ESD is working on creating an application for PUA funds that should be available by April 18, but this is not a guaranteed date
  • ESD has published this basic eligibility checker for you to use to see if you qualify for regular unemployment or PUA funds (keep in mind that if you receive a Form 1099 then you are an Independent Contractor or Self-Employed). 
  • As most of us are Self-Employed we will likely be covered under the PUA, ESD is asking that only those eligible for regular unemployment apply now and those who will be covered under PUA wait until the new application is available.
  • We are recommending you list your employer as the legal business name listed on your City of Seattle, Washington State, or other local jurisdiction business license.
  • In addition to the PUA the CARES Act also expanded unemployment through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program which adds $600/week to all unemployment payments to eligible individuals
  • According to guidelines issued by the US Secretary of Labor to the state agencies managing the PUA and FPUC programs we expect them to base weekly benefit amounts for self-employed individuals on net business income as declared on their previous year’s tax return
  • From the Secretary’s guidelines and data from ESD we anticipate if eligible, weekly benefits for self-employed individuals through the PUA should be, but is not guaranteed to be, between approximately $240-$790/week plus the $600/week FPUC payment.
  • As soon as ESD opens applications we will provide a link here.

IF you want a more detailed look into this program we will have another page with a longer post with links to legislation, regulations, and guidelines up in the next day or two so check that out if you want to get more into depth on how all this works.

If you have applied for unemployment or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through the Washington State ESD please click here to take this short survey on your experience of the application process.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance (EIDL) program is run by the Small Business Administration and is designed to provide quick relief to small businesses which have suffered some revenue loss due to the COVID-19 crisis. To be eligible your business has to:

  • Meet the SBA’s criteria on being a small business
  • Suffered a business revenue loss due to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Not engaged in certain business activities or categories such as gambling

If you are approved for the program you will receive a grant of up to $10,000 that does not have to be repaid to the SBA. The application requires that you know/have:

  • Your business structure such as LLC, Sole Proprietor, Independent Contractor, etc
  • Your SSN or EIN depending on your business structure
  • Your gross business revenue for 2019
  • Your cost of goods sold for 2019 if any (for most rideshare and delivery divers this should be $0)
  • Your bank or credit union’s direct deposit routing number and your account number

The SBA says the funds can be disbursed as quickly as in a few days but likely will be much longer. To apply for the EIDL follow the link below to the SBA website.

https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/economic-injury-disaster-loan-emergency-advance

 

Paycheck Protection Program

This program appears least likely to be very beneficial to most of Drive Forward’s members as we are mostly Independent Contractors or Sole Proprietors with one employee, ourselves. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is designed to help small businesses meet payroll and other expenses through a forgivable low interest loan.  Here are some basic highlights of the program:

  • Applications are accepted through SBA approved lenders, or federally insured banks and credit unions
  • Loans are forgivable if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and funds are used only for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
  • Amount of forgiveness will be base on percent of funds used for payroll, number of employees retained, maintaining employees’ salary levels.
  • Loan has a 2-year maturity and 1% interest rate, payments can be deferred for 6 months
  • Businesses must meet SBA’s small business definition criteria and be affected by the COVID-19 Crisis

While we anticipate most of Drive Forward’s members would not find this program very useful, we wanted to share it anyway because we know some of our members have other business that they own/operate that might qualify for this program. For more information on the PPP or to find out how to apply follow the link below to the SBA website.

https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp

 

Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grants

Governor Jay Inslee set aside $5 million from the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund for the Department of Commerce to create the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant program. This program is designed to grant small business here in Washington State up to $10,000 to help them with business operating costs.  Applications are being accepted through local county economic development offices. The eligibility requirements are:

  • Applicants should have been in business for at least one year.
  • Businesses with up to 10 full-time employees (FTEs) may apply for a one-time grant of up to $10,000.
  • Funding is not meant to help launch a business, but to support existing businesses who are specifically affected by the COVID-19 crisis and are vital members of their local community.
  • Grant recipients are eligible to receive one Working Washington Grant award during the current budget cycle, which ends on 06/30/2021.

To learn more or apply for the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant you can follow the below link.

http://startup.choosewashingtonstate.com/covid-grants/

 

 

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COVID-19 Relief and Resources