We know that many people who have recently lost their jobs are struggling to know where to begin. There is a safety net out there if you are suddenly without income, or if you have less income than you are used to. The systems of social support may be new to people so here is a quick checklist that our case managers are using to talk with people who call us. This is not exhaustive, but is a good start.
Please remember that you want to pay as many of your bills as you can during this time. Even though there are orders to stop evictions and foreclosures they do not remove the amount you owe. Bills that you don’t pay now due to special orders related to the Coronavirus will still come due when the special orders end.
1. Have you applied for unemployment benefits? The system is very busy right now so go online if you can and be persistent as it may take some time to get your claim filed.
2. Did you file taxes in 2018 or 2019 so that you can get the stimulus checks that will be coming out? IRS doesn’t have too much information out yet, but here is the page to monitor. People on Social Security or Disability will receive these payments and do not need to do anything.
3. If you have car loans, student loans, mortgage loan or credit card payments reach out to your lender. Ask specifically if they have programs to defer or forgive your payments as you have been impacted by COVID. It can be very important to tell them your need is related to the COVID crisis as they often can’t offer you help until you say that.
4. Have you checked to see if you qualify for Supplemental Nutritional Food Assistance Program (SNAP)? https://govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-food Also find your local meal sites and food pantries in your local community. Most are still open and offering take out/curbside service. There is a list on the CARE website at www.careinc.org
5. If you lost your health benefits, or your income has been reduced, have you checked to see if you qualify for Oregon Health Plan?
6. If you are working on these steps but can’t pay your rent or utilities now, have you reached out to CARE? There is a rental assistance application on our website at www.careinc.org or you can call us at 503-842-5261 to talk about options for utility payments. Our case managers are available Monday through Friday from 9 to 4 to talk with you.
We will all get through this!