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A message from Commissioner McCosh: Financial relief


Published by:

Disabilities Commission

A weekly message from Commissioner McCosh in support of the local disability community.

Dear Disability Community Members,

Well, it is now December and the holiday season is here! This year will be very different than in year’s past, as the pandemic will likely cause more limited celebrations, gift-giving and travel. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The COVID-19 vaccine should start to become available in early 2021. But for now, we know that there are still many challenges facing people with disabilities.

As we move further into the holiday season, the City of Boston is working hard to support residents who are facing financial hardships due to COVID-19. The virus’s impact on our economy will continue to be felt for a long time, so I would like to share some information on resources that are available to help

Financial Navigator Program: 
Beginning this week, Financial Navigators will be available to provide guidance to Boston residents over the phone. This initiative aims to connect residents with the wide variety of programs and services that have been put in place to help with loss of income and other financial concerns resulting from COVID-19. Financial Navigators will work one-on-one with residents in an effort to:

  • Identify personal financial challenges that have been brought on by COVID-19
  • Prioritize immediate action steps to manage expenses and maximize income
  • Provide referrals to community-based resources, City services, and Federal programs 
  • Important Note - this program does not give out any funding directly to participants

Residents can access this remote service by completing their web form or by calling 617-356-8229 to sign up. You will need to provide your name, zip code, language preference, phone number, and email address. The Financial Navigator will send you a short service agreement form to fill out, then they will call to begin their personal session. In addition to English, Financial Navigators will be able to assist residents in the following languages: Haitian Creole, Spanish and Portuguese. For more information, please visit the Office of Financial Empowerment website

Boston Charitable Donations:
The Trustees of Charitable Donations for Inhabitants of Boston (TOCD) is a public charitable trust made up of small private funds that can help those facing financial hardship. TOCD provides grants to help City residents regain financial stability. Grants are limited to a one-time gift of up to $2,000 per household. You can find applications online. Charitable Donations can be reached at or 617-635-2131. Areas eligible for help include:

  • Past due rent and utility bills with balances that are $2,000 or less
  • Home heating oil
  • Relocation help, in certain circumstances

Rental Relief Fund: 
This fund was created to help eligible Boston residents who are at risk of losing their rental housing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides financial assistance with rental payments for certain tenants in the city of Boston who meet the income requirements and do not have access to expanded unemployment benefits. Also, tenants whose unemployment benefits represent a significant reduction in their actual income due to the nature of their jobs may be eligible. You can apply for this funding online.

Unemployment Insurance: 
If you lost your job due to COVID-19 you may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Even if you have filed an unemployment claim, you may be eligible for extended benefits which are now available for up to 20 weeks for certain eligible regular unemployment claimants. You can file a new claim or check the status of your existing claim online. Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance staff are also available by phone at 1-877-626-6800

Social Security Administration Disability Benefits: 
There are two main programs for people with disabilities run by the Federal Social Security Administration: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs are accepting new applications for people who cannot work due to their disability, and they are both currently distributing benefits. New applications can be started online or by calling the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. The local Boston Social Security office can be reached at 1-866-964-7311.

I sincerely hope that everyone in the disability community will stay healthy and safe during the holidays. Now is the time to remain vigilant about protecting yourself and others by wearing a face covering and practicing social distancing while we wait for the COVID vaccine.

As always, please feel free to reach out to us if you need assistance. You can dial 311 to reach City Hall or call us at 617-635-3682. Our email is  and the latest updates are available at  

Until next week, please stay informed, stay safe, and stay healthy. 


Commissioner Kristen McCosh