We at the William James College INTERFACE Referral Service are keenly aware of the shortage of mental health providers of color and how racial inequities exist in medical and mental health care. The College’s Black Mental Health Academy, Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health, and other programs and academic offerings are playing a critical role in reversing this trend. We invite you to read a statement from our Black Mental Health Graduate Academy Scholars, and to stand with us as allies to drive change and address systemic racism.

Guide to Massachusetts Community Resources for Basic Needs during COVID 19

General Helpline for Massachusetts Community Resources

Mass 211 connects callers to information about critical health and human services available in their community. It serves as a resource for finding government benefits and services, nonprofit organizations, support groups, volunteer opportunities, donation programs, and other local resources

Financial Assistance

If you have been furloughed, laid off, or have otherwise lost your income due to COVID 19, you can apply for Unemployment and federal level programs are allowing for more flexible requirements.  You can apply online and learn more here.

If you are a parent of children under 18, are a teen parent, or are pregnant and expecting a baby in less than 4 months, you may be eligible for Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) or if you are 65+, are caring for children or are disabled, you can apply for Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC).  Both of these programs provide cash benefits to help individuals and families to help cover bills.

Housing Assistance

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) helps with to access local housing resources, including local housing authorities, regional housing agencies, and emergency shelter providers, by municipality. Select your community using the drop down at the top to find resources in your area.  In addition, the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program will help provide families help to avoid homelessness including paying utilities and rent.  In addition, under COVID 19, RAFT is available to help families who are facing unexpected housing crisis due to loss of wages or increased costs due to medical expenses.  There may be an expansion of eligibility or additional funding available coming soon.  Greater Boston Legal Services has put together information as well about eviction and housing court during COVID 19.

Several utility companies are also provided relief for individuals and families experiencing financial hardship due to COVID 19.  Learn more here.

Homeless Shelters

Emergency Assistance - Family Homeless Shelters

If you are a family seeking shelter, please call 1-866-584-0653. With office closures until at least May 4th, families with children seeking to apply for Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter only can apply by phone with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Learn more about accessing emergency housing during COVID 19.

Emergency Shelter Assistance for Individuals

To find homeless shelters for unaccompanied adults in Massachusetts, which is maintained by the Department of Housing and Community Development, is available here.

Nutrition Assistance

If you have lost your job or your income due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and can apply online or contact one of the SNAP outreach programs for assistance applying by phone.  For a food emergency, you can also contact Project Bread's FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 or
TTY 1-800-377-1292 Monday through Friday from 8am-7pm or Saturday from 10am-2pm who can connect you with local resources in your community and can help you apply for SNAP benefits.

Nutrition Assistance is also available for older adults and benefits can be applied for through the Senior Assistance Office.  In addition, some older adults may qualify for meal delivery and can contact Nutrition Program for Seniors  to learn more or call (800) 243-4636 to find out which location is closet to you.

Legal Assistance

If you need legal assistance, please visit Mass Legal Services which will ask for location, household size and income, as well as the type of case anyone needs help with.  The search results will give contact information for legal services and other programs that may be able to help.

Check out Massachusetts Law Reform Institute’s most updated webpage www.MassLegalHelp.org/COVID-19, which will address common questions related to legal rights and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emergency Childcare Assistance

Due to COVID 19, the Governor has order the closure of all child care programs, but also created emergency child care programs for those deemed as COVID 19 Essential Workforce. Find a list of emergency drop-in care in Massachusetts. The emergency programs by Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) open represent about 5% of normal childcare capacity across the Commonwealth. This is drop-in, temporary childcare that is being made available to those who are working for essential businesses and have no other option for care during this public health crisis.   EEC has updated their website with FAQs, more information about Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs and specific information for childcare providers, parents/guardians and early educators.

Mental Health Resources and Guides

During the COVID 19 pandemic, many people will experience stress, anxiety, depression, isolation, trauma and grief.  Taking care of your mental health during this is as important as taking care of your mental well being. The INTERFACE Referral Service Helpline remains open for referrals and is available to members of subscribing communities from Monday through Friday between the hours of 9am-5pm.  In response to the health crisis, many mental health providers are utilizing telemental health, and you can learn more about it by reading our guide!

If you're looking for resources on how to take care of yourself, you can review our guide on The Use of Mental Health Apps which includes many apps that help you manage anxiety, depression and variety of other concerns. Additionally, sometimes you may desire just to speak to someone, and luckily there are many available Warmlines. There are some hotlines that are also available to help you cope including the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746, National Alliance on Mental Illness Warmline at 800-950-NAMI (6264), or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling (800) 273-TALK (8255). If you are in crisis or in need of more support or general information about emergency service providers and the services that they can offer, please see our General Guide about Accessing Psychiatric Emergency Services.

Lastly, Massachusetts is also proud to introduce the Network of Care which directs constituent’s to a range of behavioral health and social service resources including resources for navigating the COVID 19 outbreak. 

In conclusion, please be kind to yourself. If receiving constant information or participating in some activity makes you feel upset, consider allowing yourself a break from it. For example, some people may find it helpful to limit input from social media. Mute your noisiest chat groups and talk to friends over the phone instead. Make appointments to call your friends and/or family, set up video chats or other activities (such as gaming sessions) that you can look forward to. Reach out and help someone else in need. Tell each other jokes, send selfies or video messages -- make each other laugh. We are all human and it is normal to feel a little lonely and anxious right now. Just know that help is within reach and we are all in this together.