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Resources for Households During the COVID19 Emergency

Updated 4-21-2020

A number of individuals are currently finding themselves out of work at no fault of their own. CCCS of the Black Hills has trained counselors that can help you find the best path forward. To visit with a counselor is free of charge. Appointments are available by phone. Many people have never been in a situation when they were unable to pay their bills. Because of this they don't know what are the best steps to take when things go wrong. The following information is a resource to help you get through these tough times.

If you have never been in a situation like this, contacting your creditors before your payments are due is the best advice. Taking advantage of the hardship programs available will allow you to do the least amount of damage to your finances and credit.  You never want to promise a creditor a payment you cannot afford.  Since most people have more than one creditor, you will want to keep track of the arrangements you make with your creditors.  Attached is a worksheet, Working With Your Creditors and a Disaster Time Budget. 

You may hear the acronym VRH which stands for Virus Related Hardship.  There are five categories to a virus-related hardship:  1. Direct – you have the virus; 1. Indirect – someone in your family has the virus; 3. High risk – you are considered a high risk individual; 4. Job Loss; 5. Income impacted. 


Government Stimulus
The President has signed the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) or HR 748.   

What the Senate has passed states that adults with an annual income up to $75,000 will receive $1,200 plus $500 per child, under the age of 17.  Married couples are eligible for $2,400 payment as long as their adjusted gross income is under $150,000, plus $500 per child.  Head of households are eligible for payment of $1,200 if they earn up to $112,500 plus $500 per child.  Payments for incomes above these limits are reduced $5 for every $100 in income above the limit. If you have filed your 2019  or 2018 taxes, the IRS will direct deposit the funds into your account.  If the IRS does not have your account number, they will mail you a check. 

To check on your stimulus payment go to:  https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment

Housing Mortgages
The Federal Housing Finance Agency has directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to immediately suspend foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days due to the national coronavirus emergency.  This applies to single-family mortgages.   

Both Freddie and Fannie will expand forbearance options for borrowers that could extend for up to 12 months.

The average forbearance is for three months.  A forbearance is a pause in your payments. To keep track of the arrangements you make with your lender/service, fill out the worksheet, Working With Your Creditors. 

What Consumers Need to Know
Here’s what consumers need to know regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans:

  • Homeowners who are adversely impacted by this national emergency may request mortgage assistance by contacting their mortgage servicer
  • Foreclosure sales and evictions of borrowers are suspended for 60 days
  • Homeowners impacted by this national emergency are eligible for a forbearance plan to reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months
  • Credit bureau reporting of past due payments of borrowers in a forbearance plan as a result of hardships attributable to this national emergency is suspended
  • Homeowners in a forbearance plan will not incur late fees
  • After forbearance, a servicer must work with the borrower on a permanent plan to help maintain or reduce monthly payment amounts as necessary, including a loan modification

For Consumers who are not familiar with a forbearance, here are the recommended Steps:

  • Contact your lender to disclose the recent change in your employment as soon as possible – before your payment is due.    
  • Ask your lender about the assistance options they have for customers impacted by COVID-19. Don’t let them skip over any details when discussing modification and forbearance options*
  • Do not respond to calls or emails that look like your lender asking if you need help. These are probably scams. You need to contact your lender or servicer from the number on your payment voucher or loan documents.  After you have been in touch with your lender/service they will tell you if they will be calling you or emailing you. 

How can CCCS of the Black Hills help you?

  • Questions about the forbearance process, call us.   Wondering what information might you need to provide your servicer?
  • Forbearance options may vary by lender and servicer.  Is a forbearance the right option for you - we can help you sort through all the paperwork and find the best one for you. 
  • If you don’t understand what you are signing, contact us.
  • If your servicer is less than cooperative, contact us for help.   

Be wary of scams.  Under no circumstances should you have to pay a service to obtain a forbearance.

Housing Rental Assistance
Call 211 or go to www.helplinecenter.org for assistance in your area.  If you reside in Pennington County contact Pennington County Health and Human Services. 

The CARES Act calls for an eviction moratorium for non-payment for tenants living in certain types of housing.  The types of housing covered are federally backed mortgage loans, federally backed multifamily mortgage loans, property including apartments and homes backed by loans from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHFA, USDA, HUD and VA.  The moratorium took place on 3-27-2020 and extends for 120 days. Landlords that receive forbearances of federally back multifamily mortgage loans must respect identical renter protections for the duration of the forbearance. 

If you struggling to pay rent, and wondering what to say to your landlord, here are a couple of examples provided by Business Insider:

Explaining a job loss or reduced income:  Due to the COVID19 pandemic, my income has been reduced due to a (lay-off or reduction in hours).  As a result, I cannot pay my April rent.  I would like to set up a payment plan to make up my missed rent.  I should be able to resume my rental payments as soon as I start receiving unemployment benefits or I am able to return to work, whichever happens first.  Due to the large number of unemployment claims being processed, I am unsure when I will begin receiving payments.  I will stay in communication with you.  Thank you for your consideration. 

Explanation of a reduction of family income:  Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, in March my spouse/significant other has been (laid-off or experienced a reduction in income.)  As a result, we are unable to pay our April rent and are reaching out to you to set up a payment plan to make up my missed rent.  We expect to be able to resume payment as so as we start receiving unemployment of my spouse/significant other is able to work again.  Due to the high number of unemployment claims being processed, I am unsure when I will begin receiving payments.  I will stay in communication with you.  Thank you for your consideration. 

If you are self-employed and unable to pay rent:  Due to the COVID pandemic our company’s revenue has been impacted and I am unable to make my April rent payment.  I would like to discuss a payment plan to make up my missed rent payment.  I expect to be able to pay rent once again after receiving the stimulus funds or disaster relief payment.  I will stay in communication with you.  Thank you for your consideration. 

Utilities
Most utility companies are temporarily suspending disconnections.  Contact your utility company to defer your payments.  Fill out the worksheet, Working With Your Creditors, to keep track of the arrangements you make with your utility companies.  A deferral is not forgiveness of the payment, it is a pause and has to be made up.

Call 211 or go to helplinecenter.org to find out what utility assistance is available.

Food
The Black Hills Regional Food Response has organized an amazing amount of assistance.  Check out their information at:

Click here for BLACK HILLS REGIONAL FOOD RESPONSE

Health
On March 18th, the President signed H.R. 6201, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law which will enhance the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation ensures that:  All individuals, including those with private insurance, Medicare Advantage or Original Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, VA, FEHBP, and TRICARE, as well as the uninsured, will have access to some COVID-19 tests at no cost.

Community Health Center of the Black Hills is a great resource.

Mental Health
Call 211 or go to www.helplinecenter.org for assistance in your area.

Unemployment Benefits
Contact the SD Department of Labor – Unemployment Division is now called the Reemployment Assistance Division.  If you have been laid-off or have exhausted all your paid leave contact them.  You can apply online at:  https://dlr.sd.gov/ra/individuals/file_claim.aspx

Taxes
The IRS has extended the filing date to 7-15-2020.  In addition, if you owe taxes, you have until 7-15-2020 to pay them. If you are going to owe taxes on 7-15-2020 and need to make payment arrangements with the IRS, fill out form 9465 or go online at IRS.gov and request a payment plan. 

Car Payments
Call your lender and ask if "skip-a-payment" is available or what other options they have that are available during the coronavirus emergency. Because car payments are secured, if your lender does not agree to payment arrangements, you need to continue to make your payments.  If not, you risk losing or having your car repossessed. 

Student Loans
The CARES Act through the Department of Education has suspended payments on government student loans through 9-30-2020 without penalty.  Federal student loans were automatically put into forbearance with 0% interest through 9-30-2020.  If you want to continue to make payments, you must contact your loan servicer.

If you do not know if what kind of student loan you have, you can go to studentaid.gov or call 1-800-4-fed-aid.

For private student loans, contact your lender/servicer to make payment arrangements. 

Credit Cards
Call the number on the back of your credit card if you are unable to make your payment.  Call or go online before your payment is due.  Ask what kind of hardship program they have due to the Coronavirus. To get the benefits of a hardship program, you must enroll in the hardship program. 

Child Care
Call 211 or go to www.helplinecenter.org for assistance in your area.

211 also has resources for families teaching their children at home and for families with pre-school aged children. 

Small Business
Both the Administration and Congress have announced that they want to make credit available to small business owners to help them weather this storm.
For more information about small business loans check out Elevate Rapid City’s website for business assistancehttps://elevaterapidcity.com/resources/coronavirus-news.

Also check out the video by the US Chamber of Commerce and Inc called the National Small Business Town Hall Meeting.  https://www.uschamber.com/co/events/national-small-business-town-hall-inc-us-chamber. This video provides easy to understand information on the paycheck protection SBA loan/grant program available to small businesses struggling with this business interruption. 

 

 

Not finding what you need. 
211 Website had many more resources. 
www.helplinecenter.org.
If you have questions and need help please call CCCS of the Black Hills at 800-568-6615.