Anthony Suggs and Suzanne Hollifield share how churches can help individuals access benefits during COVID-19

On Friday April 17, 2020, Suzanne Hollifield, Volunteer Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas Hurricane Harvey Recovery Program and Anthony Suggs, Missioner for Advocacy & Social Justice in the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado shared examples of ways churches can help individuals access benefits. Listen below!


The CARES Act is providing relief in many forms, including through stimulus checks for US citizens and resident aliens who earn up to $99,000 (adjusted gross income). Some people will receive these payments automatically, however, others will be excluded and others will be required to take additional steps to receive the assistance. To summarize:

  • People between the ages of 17 to 24 who are claimed as dependents are ineligible.
  • People who are undocumented, or live in mixed-status households are ineligible.
  • If you have no income and/or have not filed taxes, you are still eligible to apply.
  • Individuals must have a physical address, PO Box or bank account to receive the stimulus check which might be a way that churches could assist homeless or marginally housed people.
  • The forms are online, so people will need internet access to fill it out. This might be another way that churches could be of assistance.
  • Even if you filed your taxes you may need to add your banking information on the IRS website.


    • Check in with people who are accessing your ministries to make sure they understand their rights and the services available to them.
    • Recognize that you may be leading/serving people who are applying for benefits for the first time.
    • Destigmatize accessing government resources by placing links to applications on your website, in your mailings or mention resources in conversation.
    • Get familiar with the CARES Act, your state’s unemployment qualifications and other relevant benefits to your community.


  • IRS Non-filers Portal | Visit
  • Overview of the CARES Act, Foley & Lardner, LLP | Explore
  • FEMA Individual Disaster Assistance | Learn (Only for individuals who live in a declared disaster zone, for disasters other than COVID-19)


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Visit the Office of Government Relations webpage