Curfews in effect for Puget Sound cities; Inslee activates National Guard

Worried about bills? Here’s what internet, utility companies are doing to help

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SEATTLE -- The economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis are widespread and changing by the hour.

Companies and government agencies large and small are stepping up to help as more and more Americans face uncertain financial futures.

The Trump administration is proposing sending emergency checks to people across the country within two weeks, while Congress works to pass paid sick leave, emergency food funding and free virus testing.

The IRS is delaying the April 15th tax deadline, allowing Americans to defer up to $1 million in payments to the Internal Revenue Service for 90 days.

Here are some things local and regional governments and companies are doing to help customers facing economic hardship:

EVICTION MORATORIUMS

Seattle: Mayor Jenny Durkan has signed a moratorium on rent-related residential evictions, but it only applies to the city. King County and its other cities have not yet enacted such a ban. (Seattle also has artist grants, grocery assistance and other services available to residents who qualify.)

Everett: Mayor Cassie Franklin has signed a temporary moratorium on residential evictions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Everett City Council will be asked to ratify the order at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. Franklin ordered the moratorium reduce the number of residents and families ending up homeless.

PHONE, INTERNET COMPANIES

Comcast: (For the next 60 days) Xfinity Wifi hotspots will be free to anyone - including non-Xfinity subscribers; all customers will receive unlimited data free of charge; and no late fees or disconnects as long as a customer contacts Comcast to explain the situation.

CenturyLink: Waiving late fees, unlimited data and no disconnects for 60 days.

Spectrum Mobile: No late fees, free wifi hotspots, no disconnects for 60 days.

AT&T: No disconnects when customers can't pay their bills because of coronavirus disruptions. The company is also waiving related late fees. Like Comcast, AT&T is also providing free access to its public WiFi hot spots. The company also said its consumer home internet wireline customers and fixed wireless internet customers would receive unlimited data.

Verizon: Verizon said it is waiving late fees and won't be disconnecting service for customers "negatively impacted by the global crisis."

T-Mobile: Unlimited data to all current customers who have plans with data for the next 60 days. It will also provide additional data to mobile hotspot users.

UTILITY COMPANIES 

Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light: (SPU) and Seattle City Light (SCL) will keep utility services on during the COVID-19 Civil Emergency in Seattle. This will provide immediate utility relief for customers, both residential and commercial, financially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Effective immediately, all SPU and SCL customers can set up deferred payment plans if their financial stability has been jeopardized by COVID-19. Utility service will stay on as their deferred payment plans are developed and implemented. In addition to encouraging customers to set up payment plans, SPU and SCL have created a Utility Discount Program (UDP) self-certification form for income-eligible customers.

Tacoma Public Utilities: The City Council declared a state of emergency, ordering the city's water, sanitary sewer, storm water, and solid waste utilities to postpone shutoffs for non-payment. The Council also approved the creation of an Emergency Assistance Program by Tacoma Public Utilities to allow more households to qualify for assistance. The Emergency Assistance Program is funded for up to $1 million.

Puget Sound Energy: No late fees or shut-offs during the coronavirus crisis. The company launched a new energy assistance portal to improve access to funds available to low income customers. The PSE Foundation, a nonprofit operating independently of PSE but helping the communities PSE serves, is donating $250,000 to support relief efforts in the community through the Seattle Foundation as well as donating to food banks to cover emergency preparations.

Snohomish Public Utilities: Will not disconnect for late payments during coronavirus outbreak.

Thurston County Public Utility District: Customers affected by COVID-19 can request a deferred payment plan.

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