Resource assistance for paying bills and access to food programs

Coronavirus

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Mass layoffs and unemployment claims across the country are a direct result of the novel coronavirus making in difficult, if not impossible, for people to pay bills. Below is a list of agencies that have made billing adjustments for consumers in Arkansas.

BANKS:

  • Arvest Bank has a customer hardship assistance programs for their clients who may need assistance with fees, loan obligations and credit card payments. As of March 13 lobby service closed but drive-thru and ATM options are available. The general customer service number is (866) 952-9523. Here is the latest message to clients on behalf of coronavirus impacts.
  • Bank of America has a “credit card payment deferral” their customers can fill out online. There is also a personalized Client Assistance Program for those facing financial hardship. Other resources include help with budget adjustments and accessing emergency cash.
  • Bank OZK asks for customers to contact them directly if there is a financial disruption or for additional information in connection with the coronavirus. Customer Care Center phone number is  1-800-274-4482, available from 7 am – 7 pm CT Monday – Friday, and 7 am – 4 pm CT Saturdays. 
  • Regions Bank is offering financial assistance that includes penalty-free CD withdrawal; waived feed for excessive withdrawals on all savings/money market accounts; loan/credit card payment relief, including no late fees; mortgage payment relief upon request for 90 days. Mortgage: regions.com/loanhelp or call 1-800-748-9498. Consumer or small business loan/credit card: Visit Loan Assistance or call 1-866-298-1113.
  • Simmons Bank began drive-thru operations on March 23. Customers who are concerned about loan obligations should contact the Consumer Loan Support at 877-876-3500 (Press 3) or consumerloansupport@simmonsbank.com.
  • U.S. Bank has 46 branches in Arkansas. The company is offering mortgage assistance due to COVID-19 impacts by offering up to a 90 day payment forebearance with no late fees. Clients may contact the bank directly at 888-287-7817 and choose the #2. Due to high demands, wait times may be longer than normal.

CABLE/TV COMPANIES

  • AT&T, as of March 13, 2020, and for the next 60 days, we will waive domestic wireless plan overage charges for data, voice or text for residential or small business wireless customers incurred because of economic hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Comcast/Xfinity sent a letter to customers about meeting needs during the pandemic. However, on the front page of its website there was not mention of bill pay arrangements.
  • Cox Communications on March 16 announced, ” Cox announced today additional relief offerings to support residential customers during the coronavirus pandemic. New plans include offering a low-income internet tier with no annual contract and relaxing data usage overage charges for all tiers….” And a ” Promise to Pay and Promise to Pay with Extension options which will limit late payment reminders or give customers more time to pay without Cox services interruption.”

UTILITIES

  • Carroll Electric will not disconnect customers for non-payment during the pandemic. Members may call 800-432-9720 to discuss the unexpected hardships. Customers needing help paying their electric bills to those organizations in our service area who provide payment assistance. 
  • Entergy will temporarily suspend customer disconnects and continue to monitor the coronavirus situation. Customers requiring payment arrangements should call 1-800-ENTERGY (800-368-3749) or visit myAccount.
  • Ozarks Electric Cooperative has suspended disconnections for non-payment for 30 days effective March 16, 2020 to April 15, 2020. The agency continues to monitor the situation and adapt as necessary regarding the novel coronavirus. If you have any questions call 1-800-521-6144.
  • SWEPCO ( Southwestern Electric Power Co. ) has temporarily suspended all service disconnections for non-payment. The agency warns customers about scams that include threats to shut off power unless an immediate payment is made, offering a discount via auto-pay, or demanding a deposit. Here is the number to report scam attempts: 1-888-216-3523.

WATER UTILITIES CONTACTS (Population 10,000+)

  • Arkadelphia Water Utilities 870-246-5863
  • Batesville Water Utilities 870-698-2415
  • Bella Vista POA 479-855-3771
  • Benton Waterworks 501-776-5923
  • Bentonville Public Works Department 479-271-3140
  • Blytheville Waterworks 870-763-4449
  • Bryant Waterworks 501-943-0441
  • Cabot Waterworks 501-843-4654
  • Camden Waterworks 870-836-7331
  • Central Arkansas Water 501-372-5161
  • City Corporation (Russellville) 479-968-2105
  • Community Water System (Greers Ferry) 844-203-6549
  • Conway Co Regional Water Dist 501-354-3503
  • Conway Water System 501-450-6000
  • El Dorado Waterworks 870-862-6451
  • Fayetteville Utilities Department 479-521-1258
  • Forrest City Waterworks 870-633-2921
  • Fort Smith Water Utilities 479-784-2231
  • Grand Prairie Regional Water 870-673-1669
  • Harrison Waterworks 870-741-5463
  • Heber Springs Water System 501-362-3422
  • Hope Water & Light Commission 870-777-3000
  • Hot Springs Utilities 501-321-6900
  • Hot Springs Village Water 501-321-6880
  • Jacksonville Waterworks 501-982-6561
  • James Fork Regional Water 479-996-4296
  • Jonesboro City Water & Light 870-930-3300
  • Kimzey Regional Water District 501-337-0037
  • Liberty Utilities (Pine Bluff) 855-382-6508
  • Maumelle Water Management (CAW) 501-851-3070
  • Paragould, Light, Water, & Cable 870-239-7700
  • Rogers Water Utilities 479-621-1142
  • Salem Water Association 501-315-2212
  • Sardis Water Association 501-602-5393
  • Searcy Waterworks 501-268-2481
  • Siloam Springs Waterworks 479-238-0921
  • Springdale Water Utilities 479-751-5751
  • Texarkana Water Utilities 903-798-3800
  • Tri-County Regional Water 479-968-6268
  • Van Buren Waterworks 479-474-5067
  • Vilonia Waterworks 501-796-2711
  • Washington Water Authority (Farmington) 479-267-2111
  • Washington Water Authority 479-267-2111

USDA FOOD SERVICES WAIVERS

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Nutrition Service division, announced actions that should make it easier to feed children and those who need to get access to food during the national emergency. This includes a nationwide waiver for states that allows parents to pick up meals for kids. Other actions include:

  • Launching a new coronavirus webpage to proactively inform the public about USDA’s efforts to keep children and families fed 
  • Investing in a public-private partnership to feed rural childrenimpacted by school closures due to COVID-19; 
  • Allowing states to issue Pandemic EBT (electronic benefits transfer, similar to food stamps) to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals dealing with school closures;  
  • Providing administrative flexibilities in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to allow for social distancing; and  
  • Allowing states to issue emergency supplemental SNAP benefits to increase recipients’ purchasing power during the national emergency.  

UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS

Overall, the Labor Department reported more than 3 million new unemployment claims for the week ending on March 21. This number is the most in a week in the last 100 years — and includes the Great Depression.

In Arkansas there were 8,958 initial claims for the week ending on March 21. The previous week there were 1,382.

CARES ACT PASSES SENATE, HEADS TO THE HOUSE

Legislators in the Natural State hope historic legislation will help stabilize the economy and and offer relief to Americans. The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is intended to offer help for workers, families, and small businesses. The bill was introduced to Congress on March 19, 2020.

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