COVID-19 Resources for Immigrants and Refugees

Office of Welcoming Centers response to COVID-19

The Illinois Department of Human Services, Office of Welcoming Centers is proud to partner with community partners to offer assistance to immigrants, refugees and limited English proficient individuals facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that many Illinoisans are suffering economic instability due to COVID-19 and we are working hard to ensure that support services are available to all those in need. We also recognize that many immigrants were excluded from the federal CARES Act Economic Impact Payments and other state and federal benefits.

I. COVID-19 Immigrant Family Support Project

In FY21 IDHS dedicated $20 million in pandemic-related emergency assistance funding to Illinois immigrants - regardless of immigration status - who are facing unemployment, loss of income, medical costs, and food and housing insecurity as a direct result of COVID-19 and are ineligible for any federal funding relief. With the IDHS contribution, the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) is administering funds through the COVID-19 Immigrant Family Support Project. This project will help fill the gap and provide much needed direct support for immigrant families in Illinois.

In order to be eligible for assistance, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a resident of Illinois.
  • Have experienced an income disruption or experienced financial hardship due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • Not be eligible for any federal stimulus and/or unemployment insurance.
  • * Priority will be given to households with income below 200% federal poverty level.

For more information on how to apply:

  • To see if you qualify go to
  • COVID-19 Immigrant Family Support Hotline 855-437-7669

II. COVID-19 Pilot Projects

In FY21, The Office of Welcoming Centers announced the following pilot projects to address COVID-19 related financial hardship: COVID-19 Housing & Utility Assistance Project, the COVID-19 Public Health and Health Navigator Project, the COVID-19 Employment & Training Project and the COVID-19 Prevention, Testing and Treatment Multilingual Ad Campaign. These programs were established to provide temporary and emergency assistance to immigrants, refugees and Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals who experienced a COVID-19 related financial hardship between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.

A. COVID-19 Housing & Utility Assistance Project:

Amount: 19 Million CURES Act

COVID Emergency Assistance Provided: Eligible households can receive up to $5,000 of rental, mortgage and utility assistance for unpaid bills due between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.

Funding for this project ended December 30, 2020.

IDHS's Welcoming Center Housing and Utility Assistance Project was established to provide temporary and emergency housing and utility assistance to immigrants, refugees and Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals who have experienced a COVID-19 related financial hardship between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.

In order to distribute these funds across Illinois, IDHS has partnered with 30 community-based organizations to offer assistance to low-income households impacted by COVID-19. This is not a cash assistance program. Payments will be made directly to the landlord, mortgage company or utility bill.

In order to be eligible for assistance, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be a resident of Illinois.
  2. Have experienced a financial hardship due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  3. Priority will be given to families that are not eligible for any federal stimulus, unemployment insurance, or public benefits due to their immigration status.
  4. Priority will be given to applicants with household income below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI), recipients cannot exceed 80% AMI.

B. COVID-19 Public Health and Health Navigator Project

Amount: 4 Million CURES Act

COVID Emergency Assistance Provided: Participants receive COVID specific Health Navigator trainings and can receive a Health Navigator certificate from a partnership between Alivio Medical Center and the Arturo Velasquez Institute-City Colleges of Chicago.

Funding for this project ended December 30, 2020.

IDHS's Welcoming Center Health Navigator Project was established to provide temporary and emergency COVID-19 education and outreach training to immigrants, refugees and Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals.

The Illinois Welcoming Centers Health Navigator Project-COVID-19 Response is a targeted, deliberate effort to train a workforce of Community Health Workers / Navigators in Illinois to reach out to and provide information about how to keep immigrant families safe during this and other healthcare emergencies. IDHS has contracted with 17 community-based organizations, the Arturo Velazquez Institute (AVI) - City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) and Alivio Medical Center (AMC) to develop a well-trained workforce to provide information, coaching and practical approaches to prevention and management of COVID-19 in communities throughout the state. Illinois Welcoming Centers and Health Navigator grantees will work with AVI and AMC in identifying, recruiting and training community members in the health navigator project and providing education and information to participants.

C. COVID-19 Employment & Training Project

Amount: 4.5 Million CURES Act

COVID Emergency Assistance Provided: Participants receive training, employment assistance and worker protection education from one of our 26 partner agencies.

Funding for this project ended December 30, 2020.

IDHS's Welcoming Center Housing and Utility Assistance Project was established to provide temporary and emergency employment and training services to immigrants, refugees and Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals who have experienced a COVID-19 related financial hardship between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.

IDHS has partnered with 26 community-based organizations to provide workforce training to low-income individuals impacted by COVID-19. Eligible participants can enroll in job training, employment placement, certificate programs, reimbursement for tuition, computer literacy, ESL classes, resume assistance, career readiness & career orientation and worker protection education through our network of community-based organizations.

D. COVID-19 Prevention, Testing and Treatment Multilingual Ad Campaign

Amount: 2 Million CURES Act

COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Provided: Multilingual Ad campaign will target immigrant, refugee and Limited English Proficient (LEP) communities across Illinois through t.v., radio, social media and community engagement.

For more information contact us at 312-793-7120 or  

State of Illinois Resources

IDHS recognizes that many Illinoisans are suffering economic instability due to COVID-19 and we are working hard to ensure that IDHS benefits and support services are extended to all those in need. To help alleviate some of the stress associated with searching and finding resources we have compiled a list of places, policies, organizations, and guidelines created in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Community-based organizations and agencies serving the LEP and immigrant/refugee population:

Illinois Welcoming Centers

Additional Resources

Mental Health

Emotional reactions to this emerging health crisis are expected. Remind yourself, your family and your friends that feeling sad, anxious, overwhelmed, or having other symptoms of distress such as trouble sleeping is normal. If symptoms become worse, encourage them, and yourself, to reach out for support and help. The following are free mental health resources available to all Chicago residents:

Domestic Violence:

If you are experiencing violence in your place of residence, you can contact the IL Domestic Violence Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call or text 877-863-6338 for confidential help and information. Services are available in several languages.

If you need to obtain an Order of Protection, you may visit the courthouse located at 555 W Harrison even during the Stay Home Order issued on 3/20/20.

If you are a victim of sexual violence/abuse and need help, you can contact the confidential rape crisis hotline 1-888-293-2080

If you are experiencing human trafficking and need help, the STOP IT program has a 24/7 free and confidential Hotline 877-606-3158


The Greater Chicago Food Depository responds to food insecurity in our community every single day. Anyone in need of food assistance can turn to the Food Depository's network of agencies and programs. With some exceptions, their network of 700 partner agencies and programs remains open. These sites are modifying their distributions to promote social distancing, including offering pre-packaged boxes of groceries.

The Food Depository's benefits outreach team is available by phone to help Chicagoans apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid benefits. SNAP benefits can be used to purchase groceries from local stores. Eligibility is determined by household income. Those affected by recent COVID-19 related job losses may qualify. For benefits outreach assistance, call 773-843-5416 Monday-Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. or apply directly with the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Vulnerable seniors are at the greatest risk amid COVID-19. Local Meals on Wheels programs are on the front lines every day, focused on doing all they can to keep older Americans safe and nourished in communities across the country.

Cultivators Emergency Pantry Tuesdays - Wednesday 9am -4pm by appointments only 217-369-9155 ask for Pastor Nelson ( curb side pick up)

CDC Coronavirus 2019 Information

Key COVID-19 Resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

For the latest CDC resources on COVID-19, visit the its COVID-19 Print Resources page and its COVID-19 video playlist.

Please see list of updated CDC Print Resources found at the following link: Please note some new documents below that were just posted live to the CDC website this past weekend.

Additional Resources from across the Country

Refugee Resettlement Resources:

COVID-19: Understanding Guidance and Rules helps refugees recognize how the coronavirus spreads, typical symptoms, and the terms used by health officials (isolation, quarantine, social distancing, and shelter in place.) and Resettling to the United States During the COVID-19 Pandemic helps refugees understand how they may be interacting with their resettlement agency during the pandemic and outlines their responsibilities to stay informed and plan ahead.

Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange (CORE), 2020

These fact sheets are available in Arabic, Burmese, Dari, English, Kinyarwanda, Russian, and Swahili. Same content also available as podcasts; see below under Videos and other Multimedia Resources.

The new resources are also available as podcasts for low-literacy learners. Fact sheets and podcasts can be found on the CORE Resettlement Navigator website in Arabic, Burmese, Dari, English, Kinyarwanda, Russian, and Swahili. Note: Fact sheets can be embedded on websites, forwarded to refugees via email, or printed and distributed at refugee housing areas. Podcasts can be played online or downloaded from Soundcloud for use offline.

CORE's animated video released last week, Coronavirus (COVID-19): How to protect yourself and stop the spread of the virus, is also available in Arabic, Burmese, Dari, English, Kinyarwanda, Russian, and Swahili on the CORE Resettlement Navigator website, as well as in Spanish on YouTube. Additional translations in Ukrainian, Farsi, Somali, Tigrynia, Nepali, French, and Amharic will be available on CORE's YouTube channel soon.

Lastly, CORE's webpage on COVID-19 resources for refugees is regularly updated with other important videos and fact sheets translated into multiple refugee languages.

Multilingual Resources on COVID-19

Fact Sheets


Videos & Other Multimedia Resources

Shopping Hours Dedicated for Seniors and Those with Immunodeficiency

Whole Foods: Customers age 60 and older can shop daily an hour before stores open to the general public. So, if a store opens at 9 a.m., for example, seniors have access at 8 a.m.

When: Policy is already in effect.

Target: The first hour of shopping each Wednesday is reserved for the elderly and other vulnerable populations, such as those with compromised immune systems.

When: Policy is already in effect.

Jewel-Osco: Senior shoppers are being given priority from 7-9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

When: Policy is already in effect.

Mariano's: The grocer has set aside two hours daily - 6 to 8 a.m. - for seniors and those with underlying health conditions.

When: Policy is already in effect.

Walmart: Customers ages 60 and older can shop every Tuesday an hour before stores open. Walmart pharmacies and vision centers will also be open during this time.

When: Starting Tuesday, March 24 through April 28.

Tony's Fresh Market: Senior priority shopping hours are in effect 7-9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Employment and Financial Resources:

The U.S. Small Business Administration has guidance and loans available for small businesses.

Information regarding Unemployment Benefits from the State of Illinois is available.

The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division has information on COVID-19 and the American Workplace, including paid leave requirements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Know Your Rights If you do not have work authorization in the United States, you still have rights. If you need assistance understanding your rights, you can contact ARISE Chicago at 773-769-6000.

If you have valid work authorization (this includes DACA recipients), you may qualify for unemployment benefits if you have lost your job or hours worked.

Who is hiring:

Well over a dozen national companies have announced substantial hiring plans. And while it might be a career shift for some, it will ensure a regular stream of income that can be a lifesaver for others. Here's a look at who's hiring and what jobs they're offering.


The largest convenience store chain is looking to add 20,000 jobs to meet increased demand, with jobs ranging from in-store positions to delivery jobs. Apply at


The grocery chain has nearly 5,000 open positions. Most are based in retail stores, but there are a handful of openings in specialized fields such as human resources, public relations, and IT. Apply here


Roughly 30,000 temporary jobs are being created at the grocery chain, which includes Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, and Carrs. To help fill the roles, the company is working with hospitality and food service companies that have had to furlough workers.


The online retailer is looking to add 100,000 workers amid an unprecedented surge in demand due to the coronavirus. The bulk of those jobs are in warehouses and as delivery workers. (The company has also raised salaries by $2 per hour through April.) You can apply for the jobs on Amazon's website.


Drugstores are seeing a surge in business during the coronavirus pandemic. CVS will hire 50,000 additional staffers to keep up with demand and is awarding bonuses of $150 to $500 to employees who work directly with patients. Roles include store associates, home delivery drivers, distribution center employees, and member/customer service professionals. Hiring will take place via virtual job fairs, virtual interviews, and virtual job tryouts.

Dollar General

As many as 50,000 (mostly temporary) jobs are being opened up to support the discount chain's operations as COVID-19 continues to spread. The company has doubled its hiring rate and hopes to fill those jobs by the end of April. Apply on the company's website.

Dollar Tree/Family Dollar

The value variety chains plan to bring another 25,000 full- and part-time associates on board to support in-store and distribution roles at over 15,000 locations. For a full list of available positions or to apply online, visit or


The world's largest pizza chain is looking to hire up to 10,000 employees in roles ranging from pizza makers to delivery drivers to customer service reps. It's also looking for Class A CDL drivers to ensure its supply chains flow smoothly. Apply at

GE Healthcare

With unprecedented demand for ventilators and other critical medical supplies, the health care company is expanding its manufacturing capacity and needs workers to staff it.


The company that fills grocery store orders plans to hire 300,000 full-service shoppers over the next three months, more than doubling its current workforce. Learn more at the company's website.


The grocery chain says it has already hired 2,000 people since the pandemic began and it currently has more than 10,000 openings at its stores (which include Harris Teeter and Fred Meyer). Apply on the company's website.

Papa John's

Even in a pandemic, people want pizza. The nation's third-largest chain is hiring 20,000 people to help with deliveries and carry-out orders. To learn more or apply, visit or text JOBS to 47272.


The food and beverage giant plans to bring another 6,000 people on board in full-benefit positions in the coming months. It did not detail what those jobs would be. Apply at

Pizza Hut

There are over 30,000 open positions at the restaurant chain. The company has sped up the hiring process to the point where it says new drivers can be on the road within five hours. In addition to drivers, it's looking for cooks, shift leaders, restaurant managers, and virtual call center agents. Apply at


The grocery chain is hiring 'thousands' of workers to fill positions at its stores and distribution centers. Apply at


The drug chain is looking to fill roughly 9,500 full- and part-time positions, ranging from customer service associates to pharmacy technicians to shift leads. Visit to apply.


Not to be outdone by Amazon, Walmart is adding 150,000 temporary positions, which will run (as of now) through the end of May. Many of the jobs, however, will convert to full-time positions, the company says. The company is looking for people to staff its stores, clubs, distribution centers, and fulfillment centers. And it has reached out to restaurant and hospitality industry groups to let people displaced from those fields use this as a bridge. To expedite things, the company has streamlined its hiring process from two weeks to 24 hours. Apply here.


The Rental Assistance Program provides financial assistance to Chicago residents, to prevent homelessness, to eligible individuals and families who are in danger of eviction in order to stabilize individuals and families in their existing rental unit.

All evictions/foreclosures have been suspended for at least 30 days in Cook County. This means that if you are unable to pay your rent, you cannot be evicted. Learn more about your rights as a tenant during the COVID-19 crisis in English and Spanish.

The City of Chicago administers its own version of the Rental Housing Support Program. If you currently live in or are interested in living in Chicago and are in need of rental assistance, please contact the Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund at: (312) 744-0676.

Illinois Housing Development Authority

How to Contact IHDA

  • Online: visit for current information and contacts for all active IHDA programs.
  • Email: see our Contact Us page for key department contacts.
  • Phone: for all general inquiries, call (312) 836-5200 to be connected with the appropriate department.

Rental Assistance

There has been no suspension of rent payments for Chicago or the State of Illinois. This means tenants are still obligated to pay their rent per the terms of their lease.

Rental Housing Support Program

Provides rental assistance to extremely low-income households living in participating properties. Contact one of the administering agencies directly to apply.

Shelter List provides a directory of shelters that offer assistance to the homeless.


Chicago Public Schools has continually updated information regarding schools and student health and wellness.

Chicago Public Library has online learning resources for both kids and teens, along with ebooks and magazines.

Chicago Healthy Adolescents & Teens (CHAT), a program supported by Chicago Department of Public Health and Chicago Public Schools, has sexual-health education information and resources online.

Children's book, My Hero is You, about COVID in English and 17 other languages: