Can your electricity be shut off during pandemic? What Pittsburghers need to know

Your water, heat and electricity cannot be shut off during this crisis

Call your provider to see if you qualify for discounted rate programs and to alert them of employment changes or the loss of a job. If you have questions or your utilities have been improperly shut off, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Advocate at 1-800-684-6560, Mon-Fri from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Your landlord cannot evict you from your home

Pa.’s Supreme Court issued a series of orders closing all state courts to residential eviction proceedings and halting enforcement of residential eviction orders. The current order lasts until April 30. While evictions cannot take place, rental contracts remain valid and payments are still due to your landlord. The Office of Attorney General is working with Pa. landlords to voluntarily halt evictions until adequate time has passed after the public health emergency is over.

Banks are providing a grace period on mortgages and other loans

Banks are required to provide some financial protections for homeowners and borrowers impacted by the crisis. You may be entitled to significant financial protections, including: 180 to 360-day grace period for mortgages; 90-day grace period for other consumer loans, like auto loans; 90-day window for relief from fees and charges, like overdraft, late or insufficient funds, and monthly service fees; no new foreclosures, evictions or motor vehicle reposessions for 60 days; no adverse credit reporting for accessing relief on consumer loans. Contact your bank to see what’s available for you.

Student loan relief

Borrowers with MOST, but not all, federal student loans will have no payments for 6 months. Borrowers will automatically go into a zero-interest forbearance, meaning that your balance and payments will be the same after 6 months. To find out if your loans are eligible, contact your loan servicer.

Unemployment benefits have expanded and increased

Many people who weren’t eligible for unemployment benefits now are, including gig workers such as Uber drivers, workers who are self-employed, contract workers who use 1099 forms for pay, workers who do not have adequate employment history, part-time workers, and workers who have maxed out unemployment benefits. Requirements like the weeklong waiting period and work search registration have been waived.

Additionally, the maximum amount of financial support has roughly doubled due to the pandemic. Before the emergency, benefits were limited to $572 per week. An additional $600 will be added per week until July, and benefits can last for up to 39 weeks.

To apply for unemployment compensation, ONLY go to http://wwwuc.pa.gov/

The New Pittsburgh Courier is committed to keeping our readers informed during the coronavirus pandemic. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on April 10 released a four-page document outlining state residents’ rights and resources if a person has been adversely affected by the pandemic. If a question you have isn’t answered above, call the Attorney General’s office at 717-787-3391 or send an email to: info@attorneygeneral.gov

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