Guidance for Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia Homeowners Experiencing Hardship Due to COVID-19
At Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, accountability is one of our core values.
We at Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia want to ensure that our homeowners are aware of all options in these uncertain times. If you have been directly impacted by COVID-19 (coronavirus) through job loss, a reduction in work hours, illness or other issues, there may be mortgage and relief options available to you. Rules regarding mortgages are changing rapidly around coronavirus, so it is important for you to contact your mortgage loan servicer to learn about your options.
If you are experiencing a hardship due to COVID-19, please contact your mortgage loan servicer immediately to learn about options available to assist you.
Our thoughts are with our families who may be impacted by COVID-19 and we urge you to stay safe and well during these unprecedented times. Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia is committed to ensuring that assistance is available to homeowners in need. We encourage our homeowners experiencing employment or income challenges because of COVID-19 to seek available assistance as soon as possible. Below we have compiled a list of resources in our region:
PHILADELPHIA ELECTRIC COMPANY (PECO)
Philadelphia electric and natural gas utility (PECO) is suspending utility shut-offs and waiving new late payment fees through at least May 1.
Customers who are experiencing challenges in paying their bills or have a disconnect notice should contact PECO at 1-800-494-4000. In addition to waiving fees and avoiding service shutoffs, PECO is working to help customers determine if they are eligible for assistance programs. Details can be found at www.peco.com.
As a result of the impact of coronavirus, PGW is suspending non-payment terminations and we plan to waive new late payment charges. This termination moratorium will remain in place until further notice. Please note that regular billing will continue for all customers. Find more information here.
In order to adhere to government requests to perform essential work only, PGW’s Call Center is only accepting calls to respond to emergencies, to report gas odors, to request to turn on service, sign up for financial assistance or request Parts & Labor Plan repairs.
Philadelphia Water Department: Drinking Water Is Safe, Won’t Be Shut off
The Philadelphia Water Department is taking all necessary measures to ensure continued delivery of safe drinking water and wastewater treatment services as City officials respond to the COVID-19 emergency.
Financial relief: As a temporary measure, all penalties and late fees for water bills are suspended until further notice for Philadelphia’s residential and commercial water customers. The City of Philadelphia will continue to review this decision with guidance from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
PUC Prohibits Utility Terminations
Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) signed an emergency order prohibiting electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication and steam utility terminations. The moratorium will remain in place as long as the Governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency is in effect.
Under the order, terminations would be permitted in the event of a safety emergency.
For more, visit the PUC’s website at www.puc.pa.gov
Comcast will not disconnect a customer’s internet service or assess late fees if you contact them at 1 (800) 934-6489 and let them know that you can’t pay your bills during this period.
Free Internet: Comcast will be offering two free months of internet service to low income households to help them stay connected during the pandemic. Households can apply at https://www.internetessentials.com/ or call 855-846-8376 (English) or 855-765-6995 (Spanish).
Verizon: When a Verizon customer is experiencing hardships because of COVID-19, Verizon will waive late fees for 60 days from March 16, 2020 to May 13, 2020, and will not terminate service to a customer who’s been impacted by the events involving the Coronavirus. If our customers are experiencing a hardship, they should call our customer service team to discuss their situation and available options. Customer support contact numbers, an online chat feature and support content can be found on the following pages:
SOCIAL SECURITY AND PUBLIC BENEFITS
Social Security Offices will be closed to the public
All local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service. Hearings at the Office of Hearing Operations are also suspended. Secure and convenient online services remain available. Local offices will continue to provide critical services over the phone.
County Assistance Offices
All County Assistance Offices (CAOs) statewide are closed to the public. Pennsylvanians are encouraged to use DHS’ online applications and resources to apply for benefits or submit paperwork as necessary.
While the CAOs are closed to the public, eligibility determinations, application processing, and benefit issuance will continue for Pennsylvanians in all counties. Applications for benefits and renewals can be submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us. For Medicaid, contact the Pennsylvania Consumer Service Center at 1-866-550-4355 to apply over the phone. Pennsylvanians can also complete semi-annual renewals and check their benefit status through the myCOMPASS PA mobile app. Those who prefer to submit paper documentation can mail documents to their local CAO. If applicants tell their CAO that they are having a health emergency (including suspected COVID 19) the CAO will prioritize that application and expedite approval.
Beneficiaries in Philadelphia with questions or information to report about their case should call the Philadelphia Customer Service Center at 215-560-7226. Clients in all other counties can call the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930. Call volumes and wait times are likely to be high.
Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance (MA) program will cover COVID-19 testing and related services. COVID-19 testing is free of charge when a doctor determines it is needed. There are no co-payments for COVID-19 related tests.
To apply for Medical Assistance:
If you need MA right away because you think you may have COVID-19, be sure to say so on the application.
SNAP and TANF
EBT payments are still scheduled to occur during the County Assistance Office closure, and activated EBT cards can still be used as usual at ATMs and in stores at point-of-sale machines. Balance and transaction inquiries, as well as EBT card replacement, can be requested from DHS’s EBT contractor at 888-328-7366.
SNAP certification periods will be extended for at least the next three months. Ongoing SNAP cases will not be terminated during this period, and TANF has suspended sanctions for not meeting work-activity requirements. The Pennsylvania Department of Health Services has submitted a waiver request to the federal Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) for this extension. National updates from the FNS can be found at www.fns.usda.gov.
Relief for Taxpayers Affected by Ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2020 Pandemic
On March 18, 2020 pursuant to the Stafford Act, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued guidance allowing all individual tax filers to defer payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. However, this guidance does not change the April 15 filing deadline.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This suspension of services will be effective until at least April 1. In the meantime, USCIS will provide limited emergency services. Please reach out to the Contact Center (www.uscis.gov/contactcenter) for assistance with emergency services.
USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the office closure. You will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please check to see if your field office has been reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center.
USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance. Please also visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for updates.
Philabundance is working with the City of Philadelphia to help supply emergency food for individuals and families in need. Visit www.philabundance.org to use a map of sites providing meals.
The WhyHunger Hotline refers people in need across the U.S. to food pantries, soup kitchens, summer meals sites, government nutrition programs and grassroots organizations, especially those that provide access to nutritious foods and nutritional support services.
Call 1(800) 5-HUNGRY, text your zip code to 1-800-548-6479 or use the form below to locate a local emergency food provider and other support services.