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Covid Resources for Low-Income Consumers in California

CARES Act 

Economic Impact Payments - On March 27th, 2020 Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, authorizing $1,200 Economic Impact Payments (EIP) for qualifying individuals affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The EIP may come in the form of a check or a Debit card. Debit Card payments come in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.” Eligibility for this stimulus payment is based on tax-filing status for either 2018 or 2019, but if you haven’t filed taxes for either year you still may be eligible. If you do not typically file taxes, the deadline to submit your non-filer status application is October 15, 2020. 

Visit the IRS’ website to learn more about applying for the payment or check the status of your payment. For more information on the eligibility of non-filers to collect the EIP please visit EITC Outreach’s websiteThe Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) has also prepared a helpful guide to assist individuals in receiving their EIP. (September 15, 2020)

Federal Student Loan Relief The CARES act also provides relief for borrowers with federally held student loans. Additionally, on August 8, the President directed the U.S. Department of Education to continue to suspend loan payments and stop collections on Department of Education-held student loans through December 31, 2020. No interest will accrue on loans through December 31, 2020, and involuntary collection activity has been halted during this time. All months of payment suspension will count as “qualifying payments” if you are working toward forgiveness under Public Service Loan Forgiveness or income-driven repayment. If you are currently on an income-driven repayment plan and your income has changed significantly, you can update your information and get a new payment amount — remember, payments are set to resume on January 1, 2021 — based on your current income.

The Federal student loans covered by these benefits include Direct Loans (both non-defaulted and defaulted loans), FFELP Loans owned by the federal government (both non-defaulted and defaulted loans), and Perkins Loans owned by the federal government.

The two type of Federal Student Loans not covered by these benefits include older FFEL loans held by commercial lenders and campus-based Perkins loans.

To determine what type of loan you have, visit studentaid.gov, call 1-800-999-8219, or call your loan servicer. You can also visit the Student Loan Borrower Assistance website for more information. (September 15, 2020)

Major Consumer Protections, Mortgage Relief Announced in Response to COVID-19The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) has put together a handy guide to the consumer protections initiated by the CARES act and has also offered specific information on mortgage relief under the CARES act. Additionally, the NCLC has also made available their Surviving Debt manual, which is free to download during the pandemic. This manual offers tools and strategies for managing personal debt and navigating the complexities of bankruptcy and foreclosures. (September 15, 2020)

California Governor’s Orders

Evictions On March 27th, 2020, CA Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order delaying evictions stemming from the non-payment of rents by tenants affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Tenants are required to declare in writing no more than one week past the rent’s due date that they are unable to pay all or part of the month’s rent due to COVID-19. Additionally, the City of Los Angeles has adopted special renter protections to help tenants during the pandemic.

Unemployment BenefitsOn April 9th, 2020, CA Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California will begin to implement the Federal Government’s expansion of unemployment benefits by offering $600 in addition to the weekly benefits that eligible Californian’s already receive. For more information on these expanded benefits or on how to apply for unemployment insurance benefits, please visit the Employment Development Department’s website.

Economic Impact Payments & Private Student Loans On April 23rd, 2020, CA Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order, stating that the Economic Impact Payments distributed through the CARES Act cannot be garnished by banks or debt collectors. In this executive order, Governor Newsom also announced that most private student loan servicers have agreed to provide relief to borrowers with commercially owned Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) or privately held student loans, who are struggling to make payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Borrowers should immediately contact their student loan servicer to identify options that are appropriate to their circumstances. Relief options include: providing a minimum of 90 days forbearance; waiving late payment fees; ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting; ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days; helping eligible borrowers enroll in other assistance programs. This assistance is limited to California residents. 

The student loan servicers that have agreed to provide relief options include: Aspire Resources, Inc., Rhode Island Student Loan Authority, College Ave Student Loan Servicing, LLC, Scratch Services, Earnest Operations, SoFi Lending Group, Edfinancial, TFC Credit Corporation, Figure Lending, Tuition Options, Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation, United Guaranty Services, Lendkey Technologies, Upstart Network, Inc., MOHELA, Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority, Navient, and Vermont Student Assistance Corporation.

Borrowers experiencing difficulties with a student loan servicer are encouraged to contact the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) at 1-866-275-2677 or, to file a complaint, at https://dbo.ca.gov/file-a-complaint/.

Grants and Loans

Interest Free Emergency Loans & Additional Resources - The Jewish Free Loan Association is offering interest-free loans for: $1,000 with no guarantors, up to $3,000 with 1 guarantor and up to $6,000 with 2 guarantors. These emergency loans are not able to be used to pay rent when there is a State-ordered delay of rents in place, and a guarantor is typically required to co-sign for any loan application. The JFLA has also produced a useful list of additional resources for individuals affected by COVID-19. (September 10, 2020)

Mission Asset Funds - The Mission Asset Fund has established the Immigrant Families Fund in order to provide $500 grants to low-income immigrant families who have been left out of the federal government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) relief efforts. (September 10, 2020)

COVID-19 Banking Assistance - The American Bankers Association has put together a list of the relief services provided by various banking institutions. Please check the list to see the assistance your bank is offering during the state-wide shut down. (September 10, 2020)

Food Security

Free Laptop and Wireless Hotspot RentalsIn order to assist folks without access to the internet, the Los Angeles Public Library has just announced that they will allow individuals to check out a laptop and wireless hotspot device for up to three weeks at a time. Visit their website to learn more about the program. (September 15, 2020)

211 LA Food Finder Use this tool to locate the food resources nearest to you. You can search for Food Benefits Programs, Groceries/Food Pantries, Meals, Senior Food Programs, Child/Youth Nutrition services, and Temporary COVID-19 Food Programs. More information can be found on the Food Resources page. (September 15, 2020)

Food Pantry Locator - Use the LA Foodbank’s tool to search for food pantries in your community. The LA Foodbank recommends that anyone who has recently lost their job or is in need of food security or assistance should apply for CalFresh/LA County DPSS. Apply here. (September 15, 2020)