August 24, 2020
Town of Rocky establishes COVID-19 relief fund for residents

Residents of Rocky Mount who have suffered a loss of income because of the COVID-19 pandemic now have the opportunity to apply for financial assistance to help meet basic needs. 

The Town of Rocky Mount created the Supplemental Assistance Funding for Emergencies (SAFE) program to support residents who have lost a job, been laid off, or experienced a reduction in hours because of the pandemic. The town has partnered with Helping Hands of Franklin County, which will accept applications and distribute one-time assistance.

SAFE was established using federal funds made available to the town through the CARES Act, Town Manager James Ervin said. 

“We’ve got a lot of people in Rocky Mount who are struggling to pay basic expenses because of lost income related to COVID-19,” Ervin said. “When the CARES Act funds were awarded, we set aside money to set up a program that will help residents pay for things like housing, child care and food.” 

Ervin said that Helping Hands was a good fit to administer SAFE because the organization already has the infrastructure in place to process applications and award support to residents. Helping Hands began accepting applications Friday, Aug. 21.

Funding is available to individuals and families who do not meet requirements for federal or state benefits programs. To receive assistance, applicants must show proof of Rocky Mount residence and be able to demonstrate a loss of income because of COVID-19. They will also be required to show an invoice or statement showing the outstanding debt or financial need. 

Benefits are available for expenses including: 

  • Housing assistance with up to three months’ worth of past-due mortgage or rent payments. 

  • Food assistance for families or individuals.

  • Child care payments for families who need caregivers while they are working, training or seeking other education. 

  • Utilities assistance with up to three months’ worth of past-due payments. 

  • Transportation costs such as gas, bus transportation and vehicle repairs. 

SAFE dollars will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until the funds are exhausted or Dec. 4, 2020, whichever comes first, Ervin said. He added that the SAFE program is not operated by the Virginia Department of Social Services; therefore, the provisions of the program cannot be appealed.

Residents who wish to apply for assistance should contact Helping Hands at 540-483-2387. The organization’s hours are Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to noon.