First things first
- Prioritize your spending. The essentials are probably food, shelter, health care, and transportation. Everything else can wait.
- Reach out to those who provide the essentials. Identify yourself as someone affected by the shutdown. Ask what accommodations they can make. See what sources of help they know of.
- Draw on community resources without shame. Charities and mutual aid groups exist for just this purpose. Accept help from agencies, family, friends and the broader community. You can pay it forward later.
What not to worry about
Set aside worries about damage to your credit score or financial reputation. Those are second-order issues now. For the most part, credit scores affect your ability to borrow money in the future.
Further, there’s a clear explanation for why you can’t pay old bills now. Credit heals with time.
Most creditors have to go through the courts (in the case of medical or credit card debt) to get a judgment against you. That takes time and money. It’s not likely to happen with your first default.
Reaching out to creditors
Let your creditors and providers know why you can’t pay as usual. Explain how the government shutdown affects you: are you a federal employee, contractor, other affected business.
Make that contact both by phone AND in writing. Create a record so that creditors know that you are directly affected by the shutdown. Don’t rely on the representative on the phone to capture your information.
Ask for accommodation.
When bankruptcy makes sense
These agencies and companies have additional help and information to offer. We will work at expanding this list as new resource are identified.
Guidance from the federal Office of Personal Management (OPM)
Federal OPM fact sheet on unemployment benefits for federal workers
Assistance Programs for Furloughed Federal Employees — MyFedBenefits
Application for Cal. Unemployment insurance benefits: https://www.edd.ca.
But check out this idiocy: “California and seven other states received a letter from the Department of Labor stating that federal employees who are working without pay “are not unemployed and are, therefore, not eligible for UCFE” (Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees).” Nevertheless, Gov. Newsom has encouraged furloughed feds to continue to apply for benefits while the state prepares a response to the letter.
Federal SNAP funds through CA state CalFresh information
City of Long Beach shutdown assistance (Important city numbers to call for assistance)
City of Los Angeles shutdown assistance information
(Mayor Garcetti announced LADWP and Bureau of Sanitation must offer assistance plans for federal workers)
Bay Area freebies, resources for furloughed federal workers: https://www.kron4.
San Francisco local restaurants offering free food: https://sf.eater.com/
Bakersfield aid from local businesses: https://www.
Food in Southern California:
The Great Harvest Bread Co. in Temecula has created a “shutdown shelf,” where federal employees on furlough or working without pay can simply pick up free bread.
The Second Harvest Food Bank recently transformed a conference room at John Wayne Airport into a makeshift grocery, where Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers can get canned goods, produce, bread, pasta, milk, eggs, and hygiene items free of charge. Any federal employee can access the pantry by identifying themselves at a TSA checkpoint.
In Ontario, the regional food bank Feeding America Riverside distributed food to federal workers on Saturday. And in Pacoima, the Meet Each Need with Dignity food pantry has been issuing emergency food boxes – packed with fresh produce and meats – twice a week.
Taco Pete’s, in South L.A., is giving away “family packs” of eight tacos, two French fries, and two sodas to federal employees not receiving paychecks.
The Burger Spot, in Cypress, which has been providing free meals to furloughed employees and their families.
Utilities in Southern California:
In Los Angeles, the Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and the Bureau of Sanitation are offering payment plans and other assistance to help workers pay water, power, sewer and trash collection. The payment plans can be spread out as long as four months.
Similarly, the cities of Long Beach and Lake Elsinore are offering federal workers spread out payments on everything from utilities to parking tickets.
And the Irvine Ranch Water District sent messages to ratepayers saying the agency is “here to help… customers impacted by the federal government shutdown.”
In California City, residents impacted by the federal shutdown can request an extension of payment deadlines for their utility bills and have late fees waived.
Rent Aid in Southern California
Beach Front Property Management, with properties in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties, offered to let tenants forgo their February rent until 14 days after the shutdown ends, with all late fees waived. In addition, the company is offering up to $500 in interest-free loans to those residents, to help them pay for food and utilities.
BANK OF AMERICA
Credit Unions Offering Assistance To Members
Extensive list of CA credit unions offering loans or other assistance (some of the credit unions listed below are on the list, but not all)
BOPTI FEDERAL CREDIT UNION
FIRST FINANCIAL CREDIT UNION
GOLDEN ONE CREDIT UNION
LBS FINANCIAL CREDIT UNION
MEMBERS 1ST OFFERS FURLOUGH LOANS TO FEDERAL EMPLOYEES: HTTPS://WWW.
NAVY FEDERAL CREDIT UNION
ORANGE COUNTY’S CREDIT UNION
SCHOOLS FIRST FEDERAL CREDIT UNION
SOUTHLAND CREDIT UNION
US EMPLOYEES CREDIT UNION
Many gas and utility companies also are working with furloughed employees. Contact your company to see what options are available.
LA DWP/ LA SANITATION
Phone And Data
Many thanks to Wayne Silver, fellow bankruptcy specialist and marvelous colleague for these links to resources.