As economic fallout from the pandemic grows, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity wants to share some of the resources our Homeowner Services staff pulled together for current homeowners and those still waiting on their forever homes.
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- Tacoma Public Utilities
- Puget Sound Energy
- Lakeview Light & Power customers who are currently past due or facing disconnection, please call 253-584-6060 to speak to a Customer Service Representative that may be able to provide some additional assistance.
- Peninsula Light Co. temporarily suspending customer disconnects and may waive late-fees for at least the next month. 253-857-5950, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Use Emergency Food Network’s interactive food pantry map to see a complete list of food pantry locations and schedules. We recommend calling a pantry to confirm hours prior to arrival.
- Nourish Pierce County also offers an interactive map of food bank locations.
DSHS BASIC FOOD
DSHS is sending emergency supplements to people who get Basic Food (EBT). If you got Basic Food in March, you’ll get more benefits to bring your March amount up to the maximum for your household size. There is no reason you’d have to pay them back. Some frequently asked questions:
- What about April? If you’re already getting benefits in April, you’ll get the maximum amount for your household size on your regular benefit date, unless you get them on April 1–3. If you get them April 1–3, you’ll get the extra April benefits on April 4.
- How much extra benefit will I get? You’ll get the difference between your regular benefit and the maximum amount for your household size. For example: You and your partner both work and get a total of $200 of food benefits on March 10. The maximum allotment for a two-person household is $355. $355 – $200 is $155. You’ll get an additional $155 in emergency benefits. You’ll get your normal $200 with an additional $155 for a total of $355 on your regular date on April 10.
- Will DSHS issue maximum amounts for May or June? Congress approved extra benefits for March and April 2020 only. If Congress approves more months, DSHS will issue extra benefits for those months.
- How many people will get extra benefits? DSHS is giving extra benefits to approximately 277,000 households in March and April.
- Will DSHS send me a letter when I get the extra benefit? No. If you want to know when your benefits are in your account, you can call the number on your EBT card to check your balance or use your Client Benefit Account on www.washingtonconnection.org.
Check for the latest information on DSHS social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter or at dshs.wa.gov
During COVID-19 related school closures, students (ages 0-18) can access free meals: View Pierce County Meal Sites
- Pierce County COVID-19 Resources, including housing assistance programs
- Franklin Pierce Youth First Coalition introduces a new Prevention Rental Assistance program being operated by Share & Care House. This program is intended to provide rental assistance to help households maintain existing housing due to circumstances related to COVID-19 (e.g. loss/reduction of employment, quarantine, etc.). Households must be at or below 50% AMI and must live in Pierce County, outside the borders of the City of Tacoma. (The City will be launching a similar program for residents inside city limits). This program will launch on April 1. Interested participants can contact Share & Care House directly at either 253-841-8886 ext. 800 or COVID-RA@shareandcarehouse.org. Please do not contact Share & Care House until April 1. Information available in English and Spanish.
- Having trouble paying rent? If you are unable to make your full rent payment, contact your landlord immediately and try to work out an agreement. The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers counseling from organizations that can help you make the right decisions and point you towards the right resources.
- Eviction Moratorium – On 03/18/2020, Governor Jay Inslee enacted a statewide moratorium on evictions of residential tenants for 30 days.
Here are 3 things that “Curbed” recommends if the corona virus has you worried about your mortgage payments:
- Contact your mortgage servicer if you’re at risk of missing a payment. Note that sometimes your mortgage lender is also your mortgage servicer, but more often than not, your mortgage lender sold mortgage servicing to another company. You can find the name of your servicer on your mortgage statement. When you call them, tell them your situation and ask what options are available. Mention that Fannie and Freddie say you might qualify for mortgage payment reduction or deferral. But be aware that they almost certainly won’t make any special exceptions for your case for a number of different reasons.One is that there are about to be countless homeowners in your exact situation, so any exception made for you is likely to extend to others as well. Second, servicers follow strict guidelines set by Freddie and Fannie when servicing your mortgage. The good news is those two enterprises just announced they will not evict or foreclose through April, and that mortgage payment relief is on the way.
- Diligently document your financial hardship. As things progress, the federal government might change its policy or offer some form of relief for those who qualify. Freddie and Fannie and thus your servicer could make changes as well. It’s a very fluid situation.When this happens, you’re going to want to have all the documentation showing that you are in need. If you’re taking a pay cut, start collecting pay stubs or communication from your employer that shows this. If your stock portfolio tanked, get statements that show it. If you’re laid off, save those related documents.
- Document everything that transpires between you and the servicer. Mortgage servicers are about to be swamped with calls from people dealing with the coronavirus fallout. While servicers are likely recording your call with them, it’s important to document all your communication with them for your own records, too.If you can record your calls with them using a voice recorder or smartphone, do it. If they send you emails related to your mortgage, put them in a specific folder in your email account. If they send you paperwork in the mail, put it in a file folder and have it handy.This way, if the servicer loses documentation of what it promised you in the deluge that is about to unfold, you’ll be able to play the call back to them or send them documentation of any kind.
LOANS & CREDIT CARDS
- Trouble Paying Credit Cards – If you have seen a reduction in pay due to COVID-19 and are struggling to make your credit card or loan payments, contact your credit card company right away. Explain your situation and ask about hardship programs that may be available. Regulatory agencies have encouraged financial institutions to work with customers impacted by the coronavirus. Credit card companies and lenders may be able to offer you a number of options to help you. This could include waiving certain fees like ATM, overpayments, and late fees, as well as allowing you to delay, adjust, or skip some payments.
- Paying Student Loans: If you’re having trouble making payments, contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. If you have a Federal Perkins Loan, contact your school. You can easily avoid the consequences of delinquency or default by staying in touch with your servicer or school. Your servicer or school can provide information about deferment or forbearance options that allow you to temporarily stop making payments on your loans. You may also be able to change to a different repayment plan that would give you a lower monthly payment.
Emergency Financial Assistance Centro Latino continues to offer our Emergency Financial Assistance for any domestic violence or sexual abuse victim, who reside within South King, Pierce and North Thurston counties.
Clients seeking support and advocacy through Centro Latino will work closely with a Bilingual Advocate who will assist the client in completing the intake process (Safety Planning, Shelter referral and Legal assistance. If for safety reasons it is deemed necessary, client will first be referred to confidential shelters.
If shelter is not a option due to no space or family size, funding can be applied for a hotel or some other form of temporary housing until permanent housing is achieved. Centro Latino has funding of up to $3,000 per client for relocation services or a max of $2,000 for other allowable expenses.
Centro Latino funding will be used for a variety of emergency needs but not limited to the following:
• Safety and Security- Services that can ensure safety, such as locksmith services to change or install locks, replacement of doors or windows.
• Housing and Relocation- Funding can also be used to assist clients with move in assistance such as, deposit, up to 3 months’ rent (capped at $3,000 per client), utilities, eviction charges that are preventing client’s relocation.
• Emergent Needs- Funding allows gift card allocation to clients who are fleeing or have been a victim of a crime. Gift cards are limited to gas cards. Walmart Cards that can be used for food, diapers, formula, medicine, clothes or shoes or any other supply that can be considered an emergent need.
BEWARE OF SCAMS
Scammers look for opportunities to take advantage of the vulnerable, especially during times of emergencies or natural disasters. Be cautious of emails, texts, or social media posts that may be selling fake products or information about emerging coronavirus cases.
The Federal Trade Commission has tips to protect yourself from possible coronavirus-related scams . The FTC and the Food and Drug Administration have also cautioned consumers to be on the look-out for sellers of unapproved and misbranded products , claiming they can treat or prevent coronavirus.
Avoid payday lenders and alternative check cashing places. A typical payday loan has three characteristics: It has to be repaid very soon, usually from your next paycheck; you have to give the lender access to your checking account or write a check that the lender can deposit as soon as the loan is due; and it’s usually for a relatively small amount of money, such as $500. Payday loans involve extremely high rates.
Our list is by no means comprehensive, and highlights only some of what’s available. For further information, check out these resource lists that other organizations that have put together:
Stay home, stay healthy and take care of each other. We’re all in this together.