The COVID-19 pandemic has led to rapid changes in how firms and individuals go about their daily routines. As recently as two weeks ago, people were operating business as usual. Now, nonprofits that provide critical services to New Yorkers in need are being forced to come up with new ways to continue providing these increasingly essential services in a safe and sustainable manner. We’ve summarized some helpful information for New York City nonprofits looking for their path forward.
Continuity of Essential Services in NY
The ‘New York State on PAUSE’ Executive Order, issued on 3/20 and effective 8 PM on Sunday, 3/22, directed all non-essential in-person business activity closed across New York State. Essential services providers not subject to the order include “providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations”, e.g., food banks, shelters, and services providing direct care of patients in state-licensed or funded voluntary programs, under which many nonprofit service providers fall. Mayor De Blasio has also designated all HHS staff essential. If not covered by the guidance, requests can be made to receive a designation as an essential business by completing the form at this link.
Guidance for Providers Contracted by NYC
New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS) has issued multiple letters of guidance, including regularly updated FAQs, to address the concerns of nonprofit providers. Some key points to keep providers going include:
- Contract payments can continue regardless of the nonprofit’s ability to fulfill contract obligations – communication with the contracting agency is key. The City has said they will honor regular contract payments, as long as a plan is agreed upon with the contracting agency on how services will be suspended, continued or modified – including on performance-based contracts. Additional expenses that result from service modifications will also be honored.
- Track all COVID-19 related expenses for reimbursement. This includes expenses related to service modifications to continue services, personnel shortages (overtime, temps, etc.) and supplies for cleaning/sanitation that exceed contract scope.
- Existing audit deadlines are extended and new audits suspended. Understanding staff may be under circumstances where they cannot readily produce audit documents, the City has provided a minimum four-week extension on existing audits and paused any new audits.
- Cash flow concerns are being addressed with remote invoice processing and cash advances. Invoice processing will continue, but cash advances will be and are being provided to prevent payment delays and provider revenue issues. Provider cash flow will be monitored by the City and providers may request an additional advance from the City, so long as the advance does not tip the provider over 60% of their FY20 contract value.
- HHS RFP deadlines will be extended and pre-proposal conferences will include a virtual option. New deadlines will be provided on the HHS accelerator website. Pre-proposal conferences will include a WebEx teleconferencing attendance option.
As guidance is updated regularly, be sure to check out nyc.gov/coronavirus for both general COVID-19 updates and nonprofit-specific guidance under “Guidance for Schools, Businesses and Facilities”. Questions around MOCS guidance can be directed to email@example.com.
Multiple grant opportunities and loans are available to offset the financial impacts of COVID-19 to nonprofits. Various foundations have partnered with the NYC Community Trust to create the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund to support New York City-based nonprofits with loans for cash flow issues and grants for costs that will not be reimbursed by the government. For additional funding opportunities, check out the below list compiled by the New York City Council of Nonprofits:
- The United Way of Westchester and Putnam Coronavirus Relief Grants – Westchester County only; deadline 4/15
- Gilbert Fund Grant – Rolling deadline
- Robin Hood COVID-19 Relief Fund – New York City only; rolling deadline
- Candid – Funding Opportunities for Coronavirus Resources
- Giving Compass – Coronavirus and COVID-19 Funds
The first round of federal relief, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074), passed on 3/5 and included $20M in disaster relief loans for small businesses (including private nonprofit organizations) along with funding to the CDC, NIH and other agencies to support mobilization against the coronavirus.
The second round, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), was signed into law on 3/18 and effective 4/2. The law requires employers (including, but not limited to, nonprofits) to offer two weeks of paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks of paid family leave related to COVID-19. Employers can claim a 100% refundable payroll tax credit on wages resulting from both paid sick and medical leaves. Funding for unemployment, technical assistance for short-time compensation programs, increases in federal nutrition programs, and Medicaid funding are also included as parts of the bill.
The third round of relief, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was signed into law on 3/25 (Read the Council of Nonprofits’ analysis here).
Additional Links & Resources
Below are a few more useful links for both dealing with COVID-19 in general and specific to our nonprofit partners:
- The City has a guide to resources for dealing with the pandemic in NYC.
- The Human Services Council is maintaining a regularly updated list of FAQs for human services providers.
- The New York City Employment and Training Coalition and New York City Council of Nonprofits are also maintaining a regularly updated list of resources.
- Check out the nyc.gov services and resources page for information on unemployment and financial assistance.
For information on keeping stakeholders engaged at a safe distance, check out our article on “Creating Community Online”.