As the spread of COVID-19 continues to impact many individuals and families, we want to help. This resource page has been created to help those who are experiencing financial hardship.

People who anticipate having trouble making payments should review the “Steps To Take” list below. There are also a number of measures being considered at the national and local levels to help families financially over the coming weeks. For a summary of those items, see the “National Relief Measures” and “Local Relief Measures” sections below. For additional financial assistance options in your area, see the “Financial Assistance Resources” section below.

If you would like to speak with a staff member about your financial situation, please contact the Pastor for your location:

Steps to take if you’re concerned about paying bills:

Budget

  • If you haven’t looked at a budget in a while, now’s the time to do so. Every Dollar is a great free app to use to get a budget together.
  • Get clarity from your income sources as to what the reality will look like over the coming weeks.
  • Cut spending to bare necessities. If you can’t pay all of your bills, Dave Ramsey recommends you spend your money on these four items first and in this order: food, utilities, shelter, and transportation.

Defer Payments

  • If you’re still not able to cover all of your expenses, identify payments that can be deferred.
  • Call creditors to explain your situation. You can ask for temporary relief on your monthly payments. If you offer to still send some money, even if it’s a smaller amount than your typical payment, they might be more willing to work with you.
  • If you have federal student loans, you can forbear (interest accrues) or defer (interest doesn’t accrue on subsidized federal loans) your loan payments.
  • If you’re paying extra on debt(s) right now and have less than one to two months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund, it might not be a bad idea to temporarily stop extra payments and then restart them once things settle down.
  • Talk to your insurance company if you want to park an unneeded vehicle. In some cases, you can temporarily suspend insurance.
  • Enroll for health insurance, if you can.
  • Use this week to get a game plan together and gather information, as there may be more changes coming.
  • Reach out to the RCC team using an email address listed above if you want to talk.

National Relief Measures

Effective Immediately (Updated: 3/22)

  • Payments on federal student loans may be paused without interest accruing. This will be in effect for 60 days effective 3/13. Borrowers should contact their loan servicer to ask about this.
  • The tax filing deadline has been moved from April 15 to July 15.
  • Foreclosures and evictions will be suspended for 60 days on all HUD-owned properties and mortgages backed by the FHA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac. Additionally, homeowners are eligible for a forbearance plan to reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months. Borrowers should contact their loan servicer to ask about this.
  • Free COVID-19 testing to anyone, regardless of insurance status.
  • Emergency paid leave for up to three months if you are sick, quarantined, or taking care of a sick family member. It would be 2/3 of your normal salary and doesn’t apply if you receive unemployment compensation (employers with fewer than 500 employees).
  • Paid sick leave for two weeks (employers with fewer than 500 employees).
  • Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Ally Bank have all said that if customers are having trouble making payments on loans (mortgages, credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, etc.) to call them to find out what options are available.

Economic Income Payments/Stimulus Checks (Updated: 3/31)

  • Individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400 — and an additional $500 per each child.
  • The payment would scale down by income, phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children. According to the IRS, the distribution of payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. However, some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment.
  • $300 billion small business loan program to provide companies with 500 or fewer employees access to funds to continue paying employees.

Local Relief Measures

Utilities

  • Gulf Power Company will suspend disconnections at least through the end of March.
  • Florida Public Utilities will extend payment arrangements with no disconnections or late fees at least until May 1.
  • West Florida Electric will address extended payment options on an individual basis.

Cell Phone/Internet

  • Xfinity will not disconnect or add late fees for customers who contact the company. Customers will have unlimited data for 60 days, and Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots will be free for anyone. New customers will also get access to 60 days of free Internet Essentials service (25 Mbps).
  • AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint will not terminate or add late fees for the next 60 days. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are also open and customers will receive unlimited Internet data.
  • T-Mobile advises customers with past-due amounts to set up payment arrangements online.

Reemployment Assistance (Florida)

  • Go online to floridajobs.org to file a claim in the CONNECT system. While the system is overwhelmed right now due to the number of applicants, they recommend that people try to file during off hours (i.e. 4am – 7am or 7pm to midnight).
  • While CareerSource Chipola is currently closed to the public, they are available by phone to help with resetting PIN numbers for the CONNECT system.

Small Businesses

  • Contact your local Chamber of Commerce

Financial Assistance Resources — BALDWIN COUNTY

  • Sites to Find Financial Assistance Resources — Dial 211 from any phone
  • Bay Area Food Bank
  • Christian Service Center
  • Peace Lutheran Church

Financial Assistance Resources — CALHOUN COUNTY

  • Sites to Find Financial Assistance Resources — Dial 211 from any phone
  • Calhoun-Liberty Ministry Center — food distribution Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
  • Innovative Charities – food distribution on Thursday (Clarksville)

Financial Assistance Resources — JACKSON COUNTY

  • Sites to Find Financial Assistance Resources — Dial 211 from any phone
  • Innovative Charities – food distribution on Wednesday
  • First Presbyterian of Marianna – food distribution on Wednesday
  • St. Luke’s Episcopal Church – food distribution on Tuesday morning
  • My Father’s Closet – food distribution on Wed/Thurs/Friday
  • Senior Citizens of Jackson County – utilities assistance
  • Salvation Army – utilities assistance
  • Catholic Charities – utilities assistance
  • Student Meals at Jackson County Schools and Backpack for Kids of Jackson County.
  • Celebrate Recovery — Evangel Worship Center online services
  • Mental Health Services — Life Management Center

Financial Assistance Resources — WASHINGTON COUNTY

  • Sites to Find Financial Assistance Resources — Dial 211 from any phone
  • Shepherd’s Gate Church – Food Bank – Wednesday/Friday/Sunday and 3rd Saturday of the month
  • The Salvation Army – Jackson, Washington and Holmes County Utility Assistance
  • Armstrong House – Food Pantry
  • Eastside Baptist Church – Food Pantry 2nd Saturday in April
  • Love in Action – Financial Assistance
  • Washington County Council on Aging – Meals on wheels
  • Student Meals at Washington County Schools

Go to your local church’s home page: