Resources for Managing Finances During COVID-19

The economic impacts of COVID-19 are being felt in households everywhere. Resources (see below) are available to help consumers manage their finances at this time. This includes both income assistance and temporary relief from bills. (This information will be updated periodically.)

Cash Assistance

Many workers and business owners who would not typically qualify for unemployment benefits and other forms of assistance may qualify now. For more information and to apply, visit these sites:

If you receive unemployment benefits, note that federal taxes will not be withheld from the additional benefits ($600/week) currently available. You may owe taxes on those funds when you file next year.

Housing

Homeowners looking for mortgage payment relief must contact their lender. Options for skipping payments are available for most borrowers, but arrangements must be made with their lender. Ask about repaying missed payments by extending the loan term.

For more information on options for homeowners, visit CFPB Mortgage Relief Options.

For renters, the State of NJ has created the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Selected qualified applicants will receive a rent subsidy for up to six months. Pre-applications will be available for submission online from July 6, 2020 at 9am until Friday, July 17 at 5pm. A lottery process will be used to select eligible applicants. For more information and to apply go to COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (NJ Department of Community Affairs 609.292.4080).

Renters in NJ cannot be evicted during the COVID-19 Emergency (see details here). Those unable to make rent payments should speak to their landlord. Security deposits can be applied to current rent (see details here).

Isles is a HUD-Certified Housing Counseling Agency. To speak with one of our counselors, contact us at homehelp@isles.org or 609.341.4783.

Student Loans

Payments for most student loans held by the federal government are suspended at this time (March 13 to September 30, 2020). Check here for updates and more information. You can also visit the CFPB website.

Borrowers with privately held student loans should contact their servicer to discuss payment options.

Utilities, Credit Cards, and Other Services

As with other bills, it is important to contact your service provider if you are unable to make a full payment. Ask whether you qualify for assistance programs (e.g., gas/electric, internet). When possible, consider changing your services (e.g., cable, subscription services), if only temporarily. Ask about repayment terms, late fees, interest charges, etc. In many instances, late/missed payments are NOT being reported to the credit bureaus if you have an agreement with your lender/service provider. These additional fees and interest may be waived, but you will need to make up missed payments at some point in time. Visit provider websites for the most up-to-date information:

    • Service shut-offs due to non-payment have been temporarily suspended at area utilities such as PSE&G and NJ American Water. Late fees may be waived.
    • Insurance providers are required to provide a grace period of 60 or 90 days to customers per the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance. For more information, click here and/or contact your insurer.
    • Many internet service providers have low-cost programs for income-eligible households. See information about these programs here.
    • For advice about how to manage debts such as auto loans, credit cards, personal loans, etc. visit the CFPB

Isles Financial Solutions staff are available to speak with you about your situation and to help you set a budget, prioritize bills, and understand your options. Contact us at ifs@isles.org 609.341.4740.

Watch Out for Scams

Unfortunately, fraudulent actors have responded to the current crisis by developing new scams. Some of these include ‘fake mandatory COVID-19 tests,’ ‘stimulus/government assistance scams’ and CDC imposters. For more complete lists and descriptions see NJ Department of Consumer Affairs Tips to Avoid Scams and the Federal Trade Commission.