As the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects continue to ripple through our community, many of us are in need of a little extra help. If the pandemic has caused you financial difficulties, there’s still good news. There are numerous resources to support you during this unprecedented time. From keeping your utilities turned on to getting extensions on loan payments, here’s where to find helping hands.
If you’re unemployed or are working reduced hours
You may be eligible for unemployment benefits. The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions is the go-to source to apply for benefits and search for jobs. During this time, the department is waving the work search requirements for those with reduced hours or job loss due to COVID-19, or who are self-isolating due to a COVID-19 diagnosis for themselves or a loved one. That means you may be able to receive benefits quickly and easily. Additionally, the CARES Act is providing Americans additional unemployment benefits. It’s also extending assistance to self-employed, independent contractors, and gig economy workers for the first time.
If you lost your health insurance coverage
Losing your insurance or being uninsured during this health crisis might feel especially worrisome. You might be able to land coverage through one of three state programs:
New Mexico Medicaid Program, beWellnm (New Mexico’s Health Insurance Exchange), or the New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool. You can also rest assured that during the pandemic, everyone qualifies for COVID-19 testing and treatment without any out-of-pocket costs.
If you need help with your mortgage or rent
Many mortgage lenders are offering loan forbearance, which allows you to suspend your payments for up to 12 months due to hardship. These missed payments may be due at the end of the forbearance period or be added to the end of your loan term, so be sure to check with your lender for details about what’s available to you. If your mortgage is with State Employee Credit Union, 30-day extensions are available, with the exception of a Home Equity Line of Credit.
If you’re renting, you won’t be evicted due to inability to pay during the public health emergency. You’ll just need to make sure you provide the court with proof of your inability to pay. If you need legal assistance with doing that, you can call New Mexico Legal Aid at (505) 633-6694.
If you need help with your utilities
PNM and New Mexico Gas Company have committed to suspending shut-offs for those who are unable to pay for electricity and gas during the pandemic. Additionally, local water authorities, including in the Duke City and City Different, have said they won’t shut off water service during this time. Payment plans and reduced rates may also be available. You can contact your service provider for further details or call the state’s COVID-19 hotline for additional details at (833) 551-0518.
If you can’t pay your cell or internet bill
Major internet and cell phone providers in the state have committed maintaining service—even for those who can’t pay—through May 12. They’re also waiving any late fees customers may accrue. If your service has been disconnected improperly, call the state’s COVID-19 general hotline at (833) 551-0518. If you need access to WiFi in Albuquerque, the city has set up outdoor hotspots. The hotspots are generally available at Albuquerque public schools, libraries, and community centers. In Santa Fe, free WiFi access is always available on the Plaza, and several schools and government buildings are offering access during the public health emergency.
If you need help with loan payments
If you have a loan through State Employees Credit Union, we want to work with you to ease the burden. Start by scheduling a meeting with a Member Representative to discuss the best options for your particular circumstances. In general, payment extensions are available, plus we’re making emergency loans to help cover unexpected shortfalls or expenses during this time.
If you need help with an auto loan
If you’re taking out a new auto loan at State Employees Credit Union, when you apply online for pre-approval, you’ll receive $150 and your first payment won’t be due for 120 days. If you refinance your loan from another financial institution with SECUNM, you’ll receive $150 and 120 days of no payments.
If you need food
You can tap into the state’s food assistance programs. The Food Depot serves northern New Mexico, including Santa Fe, Angel Fire, Raton, Las Vegas, Española, and beyond. It has drive-through distribution centers throughout Santa Fe and Rio Arriba Counties, so you can stay safe while getting much-needed supplies. Roadrunner Food Bank is distributing food in Albuquerque, as well as throughout Bernalillo, Otero, and Valencia Counties. If you’re planning a trip to gather food, Roadrunner advises calling ahead since the distribution sites may need you to follow certain social-distancing guidelines during your visit. To reach the center call (505) 349-5340.
With kids out of school, breakfast and lunch may be a challenge. Public and charter schools across the state are serving as meal pick-up sites for children. The meals are free and are grab-and-go style. You can find a site near you online.
If you’re a senior citizen and you need food, there’s a special hotline to just for you. Call (800) 432-2080. You might also be eligible for services such as Meals on Wheels, where volunteers bring dinners to your home.
You can also apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides resources to New Mexicans in financial need so they can purchase groceries. SNAP benefits can be used for food staples at participating grocery stores and many farmers markets across the state.
If you need childcare
The state of New Mexico runs a referral line to help families find childcare. Access it by calling (800) 681-9067 or online. If you’re a first responder or health provider, you can get free, full-time childcare assistance. Just call that resource line to learn more. During the pandemic, the state is also extending childcare provider funding to family, friends, and neighbors who are stepping in to fill the gaps. Individuals who would like to receive childcare funding can call (833) 551-0518 to get started.
We know this is a difficult time, and we’ll be here every step of the way with you.