Resources for Memphians Experiencing Financial Hardship
On this Page
- Homeowners and Renters
- Defer Payments on Your Student Loans
- Limited Internet Access
- Contact the Social Security Administration
- The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability
- Unemployment Insurance
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) halted evictions for renters during the pandemic through June 30, 2021. However, the District Court of West Tennessee ruled that landlords in the district are not required to follow the CDC’s eviction moratorium. As a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, I have urged the Department of Justice to appeal and use all the tools available to the Department to keep the eviction moratorium in place.
For those who are facing eviction or whose ability to pay rent and/or utilities has been impacted by COVID-19, the American Rescue Plan provides $27.5 billion for emergency rental and utility assistance. The State of Tennessee will receive $383.4 million and the City of Memphis and Shelby County will receive an additional $28.2million to be issued to eligible households. Applications for rental assistance can be filed with Memphis Housing and Community Development or the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. To find more information and apply, see here.
If the Order is reinstated in West Tennessee, and elsewhere in the country, it protects tenants who:
- have used their best efforts to obtain government assistance for housing
- are unable to pay their full rent due to a substantial loss of income
- are making their best efforts to make timely partial payments of rent, and
- would become homeless or have to move into a shared living setting if they were to be evicted.
In addition to the above requirements, one of the following financial criteria must apply. To qualify for protection, tenants must:
- expect to earn no more than $99,000 (individuals), $136,500 (head of household), or $198,000 (filing joint tax return) during 2020-2021
- not have been required to report any income to the IRS in 2019, or
- have received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act.
The Biden Administration also extended through June 30, 2021 the ban on foreclosures and evictions for homes backed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Agriculture, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
These coordinated actions will cover 70 percent of existing single-family home mortgages and will:
- Extend the foreclosure moratorium for homeowners through June 30, 2021;
- Extend the mortgage payment forbearance enrollment window until June 30, 2021 for borrowers who wish to request forbearance;
- Provide up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance, in three-month increments, for borrowers who entered forbearance on or before June 30, 2020.
Here’s how you can learn more or get help:
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: A guide to housing assistance with up-to-information for homeowners and renters on their relief options, protections, and key deadlines.
- Visit the CFPB to find a housing counselor. You may also call (800) 569-4287.
The CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020, allows Americans to opt to suspend their federal student loan payments, originally through January 31, 2021, but now through September 30, 2021 due to an extension by the Biden Administration. To set this up, you must contact your loan service provider.
The bill also suspends all involuntary debt collection on student loans, including wage garnishment and tax refund reduction. Additionally, regardless of whether you choose to suspend your payments, interest on all federal student loans has been automatically suspended through September 30, 2021.
Below is a list of major loan providers. If you’re not sure who your student loan servicer is, you can call Federal Student Aid at 1-800-433-3243.
- CornerStone: 1-800-663-1662
- ECSI: 1-866-313-3793
- FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA): 1-800-699-2908
- Granite State — GSMR: 1-888-556-0022
- Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.: 1-800-236-4300
- HESC/Edfinancial: 1-855-337-6884
- MOHELA: 1-888-866-4352
- Navient: 1-800-722-1300
- Nelnet: 1-888-486-4722
OSLA Servicing: 1-866-264-9762
Millions of Americans who are now eligible for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medicaid are also eligible for the Federal Communications Commision’s Lifeline program. The Lifeline program is the primary federal program charged with helping low-income families obtain broadband and telephone services. To increase awareness about the program, I sent a letter along with my colleagues urging the FCC to work with other federal agencies and ensure that those who are eligible have the information they need. Learn more about the Lifeline program here.
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Social Security Offices are currently only offering services via phone, fax, and online. Here is a link to find your local field office. If you know which office you are trying to reach, please find the number below:
- Austin Peay Highway office: 1-855-420-8557
- Monroe Avenue office: 1-866-336-2212
- South Third St office: 1-855-782-9155
More information about the Social Security Administration and its current services in light of the coronavirus outbreak may be found here.
The Commission has a number of resources available for elderly and disabled adults, including assistance with grocery delivery. Please visit https://www.tn.gov/aging.html, call 1-866-836-6678 or email TN.Aging@tn.gov
My office can help: If you are experiencing issues with filing for unemployment benefits, please contact my Memphis office at 901-544-4131. Please leave a voicemail with your callback information and someone on my staff will get back to you as soon as possible.
Workers in most states, including Tennessee, are eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits in a year from the regular state-funded unemployment compensation program. Additional weeks of enhanced federal benefits are also available through September 6, 2021.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program provided pandemic-related unemployment assistance for people who don’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits.
Who it helps: Self-employed workers, freelancers or independent contractors, and other gig workers — who otherwise aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits — to get benefits.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program allows states to provide up to 13 weeks of federally funded unemployment benefits to certain workers, including those who have already used up available regular unemployment benefits.
Who it helps: Workers who have already exhausted available state benefits.
Federal-State Extended Benefits
The Federal-State Extended Benefits program is a permanent program that provides additional unemployment benefits to workers who have used all available state benefits in times and places of high unemployment. The CARES Act included adjustments to this program that shifted more funding of it to the federal government, and ensures available additional benefits are still available to workers after they have exhausted PEUC benefits.
Who it helps: Unemployed workers who have already used all available state and PEUC benefits.
Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
Who it helps: Individuals who are collecting regular unemployment compensation through their state programs, as well as additional federal and pandemic-related unemployment programs.
How These Programs Work
- State unemployment benefits: This is the first stop for workers in need of unemployment benefits. State benefits typically provide up to 26 weeks of unemployment assistance, though certain states and circumstances allow for longer.
- PUA: Available to self-employed, freelancers, and other workers not eligible for state unemployment benefits in the first place.
- PEUC: Available after an unemployed worker uses all available state benefits.
- EB: Available to unemployed workers in certain states after they’ve used all available PEUC benefits. These additional benefits are not available to those receiving PUA assistance.
- PUC: Available to workers collecting regular state unemployment benefits to enhance the benefit amount.