Help for those facing economic hardship

COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown has caused economic hardship for many Illinoisans. If you are facing tough economic times please know you are not alone and there are programs out there to help. Below is a list of some of the programs available to help with utilities, mortgages and student loans.

Utility Providers

The IL Commerce Commission (ICC) ordered that each Illinois gas, electric distribution, water, and sewer utility shall 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.

ComEd has voluntarily implemented a moratorium on service disconnections for non-payment. This suspension applies to both residential and commercial customers. For more info click here and here.

Ameren will continue normal billing for power usage, but to help, they are forgiving 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. Given the importance of personal hygiene in preventing the spread of coronavirus, American Water has suspended billing related service shut offs. Additionally, they are turning water service back on for customers who were previously shut-off for non-payment. For more info click here.

Local Water Utilities. If you feel you may be unable to pay your water bill or any other utility, contact your local provider or your municipality to defer your payment. It is important to contact your utility provider and work with them.

People’s Gas is not disconnecting customer’s service for non-payment. Click the following links to get help with payment arrangements for home or business. They are also working to connect customers with organizations that can help provide payment assistance.

Nicor Gas is voluntarily suspending service disconnections and waiving late payment charges until at least May 1. In the meantime, they are 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. 

Propane Bills. 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. 

Cell Phone Carriers. The four biggest carriers—AT&TSprintT-Mobile, and Verizon—have all committed to not cutting off customers who can’t pay their bill because of this crisis and waiving late fees. They have also implemented a number of policies that help customers stay connected to loved ones, work, and school. Residents having trouble paying their bill should contact them to get their payment 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 the onus is on the borrowers to ask be placed in forbearance. Each lender has implemented a slightly different program. For more information, borrowers should contact their lender

Student Loans

For federal student loans, payments will automatically stop from March 13, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2020. No new payment will be due until after September 30. Federal student loan borrowers are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, which temporarily stops monthly loan payments. This suspension of payments will last 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.