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Resources to help with rent, unemployment and financial services amid COVID-19 pandemic

What to do if you are struggling to pay your mortgage or rent.

If you are struggling to pay your rent or mortgage amid the pandemic’s economic fallout, the federal government and some local authorities have announced a series of moratoriums on evictions and other actions.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a foreclosure and eviction moratorium earlier this month for single-family homeowners for the next 60 days if they have Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages.

The action “will allow households who have an FHA-insured mortgage to meet the challenges of COVID-19 without fear of losing their homes, and help steady market concerns,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement.

More information on the HUD’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium can be found at www.hud.gov (HUD COVID-19 Resources and Fact Sheets)

Homeowners in danger of missing a payment should reach out immediately to their lender online rather than by phone because of recent staff reductions, according to the Housing Policy Council, a group of lenders whose members include JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup. The group is working to streamline procedures so lenders are not overwhelmed and requests can be quickly processed, in many cases without requiring immediate proof of need.

“And finally, it is critical that we continue to message that all those who can pay their mortgage, should pay their mortgage,” reads the group’s COVID-19 statement on its website.

Wells Fargo Home Lending said in a press release that they are granting an immediate three-month payment suspension for customers who request assistance on their mortgages. For customers who take advantage of the payment suspension, the lenders said they also won’t report past-due status to consumer reporting agencies or charge late fees during the three-month period.

Moreover, major cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego have also instituted moratoriums on evictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic if you are struggling to make rent. For more information, check your local city housing websites.

Experts also urge that if you think you are struggling to pay your rent, be sure to take action as soon as possible.

What if I can’t pay my energy bills?

Some electric and utility service providers have announced steps to help financially if you are unable to make payments for your home or small business.  For California, Pacific Gas and Electric announced measures, saying it “has voluntarily implemented a moratorium on service disconnections for non-payment,” amid the coronavirus pandemic.  PG&E’s moratorium applies to both residential and commercial customers.

“We recognize that this is a rapidly changing situation and an uncertain time for many of our customers. Our most important responsibility is the health and safety of our customers and employees. We also want to provide some relief from the stress and financial challenges many are facing during this worldwide, public health crisis,” the company’s chief customer officer and senior vice president Laurie Giammona said in a statement.

If you are worried about missing a payment or getting your services shut down, check to see what help is available with your local provider as soon as possible. Experts also urge reaching out to service providers online if possible, as many have reported long wait times or not being able to get through to someone on the phone amid the pandemic.

What if I can’t make an internet or phone payment?

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai urged internet and telephone services to ensure that Americans do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity amid the crisis earlier this month, and a growing list of companies have signed the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected” pledge to not terminate services over the next 60 days.

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