The economic hardship caused by the coronavirus is hitting everyone. The Illinois Dept. of Employment Security is being flooded with claims, and unemployment benefits are just now starting to be paid. As we get closer to May, many people are going to find it even more difficult to make ends meet.
The Ilinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has ordered all Illinois utility companies design and implement, on a temporary basis, more flexible credit and collections procedures and file them for consideration and approval to ensure that customers remain connected to essential utility services when the emergency status ends.
If you’re facing tough economic decisions, please know that you’re not the only one, and that there are programs available to help you. Below is a list of companies providing bill deferment programs:
Ameren will continue normal billing for power usage, but is waiving late payment fees for both residential and business customers. All disconnections have been temporarily suspended until further notice. For more information, click here.
American Water has suspended billing related service shut offs. Additionally, the company is turning water service back on for customers who were previously shut-off for non-payment. Click here for more information
Local Water Utilities
If you’ll be unable to pay your water bill or any other utility provided by your municipality, contact your local provider to defer your payment. It is important to contact your utility provider and work with them, a list of water and sewer providers is below:
People’s gas is not disconnecting customers’ service for non-payment. Click the following links to get help with payment arrangements for home or business. The company is also working to connect customers with organizations that can help provide payment assistance.
Nicor is voluntarily suspending service disconnections and waiving late payment charges until at least May 1. In the meantime, it is reminding customers to visit nicorgas.com to learn more about financial assistance or payment programs available. Visit Nicor’s billing page for more info.
LIHEAP is one resource that can be used by customers facing a hardship. LIHEAP funds do not need to be paid back.
In order to help with propane bills, the LIHEAP application period has been extended until June 30, 2020, or until funding is exhausted. Residents can contact their local propane tank provider if they are unable to pay their current bill to work out a potential payment plan. A list of local propane suppliers is below:
Cell Phone Carriers
The four biggest carriers—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon—have all committed to not cutting off customers who can’t pay their bills because of this crisis and are waiving late fees. They have also implemented a number of policies that help customers stay connected. Residents having trouble paying their bills should contact them to get their payments deferred:
Internet Providers are offering free access to WiFi hot spots for everyone, including non-subscribers, for 60 days. They are also providing more data to customers for no extra charge and are not disconnecting internet service or charging late fees for customers who say they cannot pay their bills. Please contact your provider if you need more assistance:
Home Mortgage Forbearance
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided the option of mortgage forbearance to homeowners with federally backed mortgages. Homeowners can request a forbearance period of six months, and they have the option to extend it another six months. The program is NOT automatic, and borrowers must ask to be placed in forbearance. Each lender has implemented a slightly different program. For more information, borrowers should contact their respective lenders.
Federal student loan borrowers are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, which temporarily stops monthly loan payments until Sept. 30, 2020, but borrowers can still make payments if they choose. Interest on student loans is also not accruing during that time. For more information about Student Loans click here.
Local Food Pantries
Below is a link to a list of local food pantries in McHenry County which are helping during the crisis. COVID is a fluid situation; please check their websites or call their office to ensure their information is accurate.
If you have any other questions or needs, please do not hesitate to call my office at (815) 880-5340 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are all in this together.
State Representative 63rd District