A sign on the window of the closed d.b.a. on Frenchmen Street. Photographed on Saturday, March 21, 2020. (Photo by Michael DeMocker)

Losing money during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here are 5 resources to help

Obviously none of this will fully alleviate the hardships many of us will face during this emergency, but there is some help out there.

by Matt Haines | March 23, 2020

We’re working hard here to ensure you can still live a Very Local New Orleans life — even as you self-quarantine. (You are in self-quarantine, right? Group gatherings in the park or backyard are not self-quarantine!)

Want to know the top local podcasts to listen to? We’ve got it! The best New Orleans-centric books to read? We’ve got that, too. Which restaurants are offering take-out and delivery? It’s right here!

But we also understand how serious the ongoing situation is for many of our readers. Not only is this a health crisis; it’s also an economic crisis. 

Important preventative measures are forcing businesses to close shop, and the result is that many New Orleanians are losing their jobs. This is especially true for the city’s musicians and service industry employees whose work, by definition, comes from the very gatherings of people no longer permitted.


Fortunately, there is some relief. It may not be enough to replace all you’ve lost, but if you have lost income as a result of COVID-19, there’s assistance out there. 

Here are five sites we recommend you explore. Even if you don’t need them yourselves, maybe a neighbor struggling. The more we know, the more we’ll be equipped to help those around us. Read on!

Louisiana Workforce Commission

Check out this clear and simple one-pager from the Louisiana Workforce Commission. You are eligible for as much as $247 in compensation per week if any of these situations apply to you:

  • Your work hours have been reduced because of lack of employment due to coronavirus.
  • Your workplace closes temporarily, and you are not being compensated.
  • You have been instructed not to go to work, and you are not being paid while at home.

You can file a claim here, or call their Claim Center at 866-783-5567. The Commission has removed several barriers to receiving benefits, so the sooner you apply, the sooner you may be eligible for at least some compensation.

“NOLA Ready” by The City of New Orleans

This is less a specific benefit, and more a one-stop shop for understanding some of the programs available to you. The website has sections outlining options for food assistance, legal assistance, financial assistance, and mental health assistance. 

The site also outlines what utility companies are doing to help, including a resource for eLearning which may be useful to teachers. To find it, go to the Utilities section. Distance learning is the last resource listed there.


Gig Economy Workers Fund

The New Orleans Business Alliance is growing a fund of more than $500,000 to help New Orleans’ large population of contract workers who contribute to our vibrant “gig economy.” This is a fund specifically for our city’s rideshare drivers, musicians, arena workers, festival production staff and other contract workers particularly susceptible to the recent cancellations of cultural events.

If you’re at or below the Area Median Income ($47,200 for a single person in Orleans Parish), earn at least 60% of your income from “gig-work” and can demonstrate you’ve lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, then you could be eligible to receive a grant of as much as $1,000 every 45 days.

You can also donate to the fund near the bottom of this page.


Hospitality Cares Pandemic Response Fund

(Editor’s Note: Due to the response, the United Way has temporarily closed applications while they review current submissions. Sign up here to receive Hospitality Cares Pandemic Response Fund notifications, including information on the reopening of the application processes – pending available funds.)

The United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Entergy and the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation have launched this relief fund for hospitality workers affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

If you have worked in a Louisiana-based restaurant, bar or hotel between February 1st and the time of your application, earn at or less than $30,000 (or $61,000 for households with children) and are experiencing a pandemic-related financial emergency, then you are eligible for a grant of up to $500.

This new application went live on March 21st. You can also donate to the fund here.


COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources

The hosts of this website are compiling an extensive list of free resources, opportunities and financial relief options from around the country that can help the freelance artist community. 

It all doesn’t apply to New Orleanians, but some of it will! There are resources — including an excellent livestream panel — on how artists can best deal with the pandemic, as well as best practices for online teaching, learning and gathering. There are also resources for emergency funding, temporary/remote job opportunities and much more!


Obviously none of this will fully alleviate the hardships many of us will face during this emergency, but there is some help out there. Take a look through these resources and let us know on social media how they’re working for you and your loved ones, as well as if there are any tools we’ve missed.


Matt Haines

Matt Haines

Matt Haines lives in New Orleans and writes about all the cool stuff.
Visit his website MattHainesWrites.com.
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