Financial Assistance Tips

When the Mendocino Public Health Official issued the Revised Shelter-in-Place Order on March 24th, it had a termination date of April 7, 2020 but is now extended until further notice.  This is consistent with Governor Newsom’s Stay-in-Place Order.  President Trump just extended his social distance guidelines through the end of April.  Likewise, the Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools, Michelle Hutchins, extended the modified or “remote” learning for all schools in the County through May 1, 2020.   The message is clear that we will continue to live much as we have over the last two weeks for another month – maybe longer.  The good news is that as a community we are healthy and we have not yet experienced the COVID-19 surges that New York and other parts of the world have already and that we hope to avoid through our Shelter-in-Place actions.

Understanding the short-term future, I encourage everyone to take stock of where they are at financially and emotionally, not just physically.  If you need financial assistance, the sooner you act, the better.  Here are a few programs and suggestions that may help you through the next several months:

  1. If you have been laid off or your hours reduced, apply for unemployment now.  The stimulus bill approved by Congress and signed by the President last week adds an additional $600 per week above the regular state benefits for up to 4 months.
  2. Governor Newsom has negotiated a 90-day Mortgage Payment Relief program with many of the state and national mortgage providers.  This applies to all Californians regardless of income level. Contact your mortgage provider immediately if you are unable to pay your mortgage in full now or in the near future.  Even if your mortgage provider is not on the Governor’s list, they are likely to work with you.
  3. Contact your student loan provider and the Federal Department of Education to arrange for a temporary suspension of your monthly student loan payments.
  4. If you rent, reach out to your Landlord as soon as possible, if you are unable to make your full rent payment when due.  You have protection from eviction under the Governor’s March 27th Executive Order, the City of Fort Bragg’s March 30th Eviction Moratorium and/or Mendocino County’s March 24th Eviction Moratorium.  
  5. In the City of Fort Bragg, your water and wastewater utilities will not be shut off for nonpayment in March or April.  PG&E has made a similar promise to its customers.
  6. If you need assistance with groceries, contact the Fort Bragg Food Bank (707) 964-9404.  You can also apply for CalFresh benefits at getcalfresh.org. 
  7. General advice - the best thing you can do for your financial health is to be proactive and reach out to your creditors and discuss your options.  This will often protect your credit for the future.

During this stressful time, taking care of your emotional health is also critical, especially if others rely on you.   Reach out by phone, Zoom, FaceTime, email or Facebook to friends and relatives to keep connected.  If you need more assistance remember your local resources:  

  • Redwood Community Services Crisis Line 1-855-838-0404 or the Crisis Text Line text TALK to 741741
  • Project Sanctuary for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention and Support (707) 964-4357

As we focus on the physical health of our community and ourselves, remember to manage your financial and mental health as well.  If you have questions, City Staff is available at (707) 961-2823 (Spanish speakers are also available).  If you need nonemergency assistance from the Police Department, please call (707) 964-0200.  In a true emergency, as always dial 911.  Stay safe and healthy.  

— Tabatha Miller, Ft Bragg City Manager

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