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What you should do if you can't pay your rent or mortgage due to COVID-19

Nearly 3.3 million people filed for unemployment insurance in the week ending March 21

MACON, Ga. — With rent and mortgage payments due on the first of the month, lots of people Central Georgia are trying to figure out how to pay the bills.

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases goes up, so does another alarming number -- unemployment claims.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that nearly 3.3 million people filed for unemployment insurance in the week ending March 21.

Christi Simmons had two jobs, one as a server at Red Lobster in Dublin and another at Ole Times Country Buffet in Macon.

"On the 20th of March, I was laid off of both," Simmons said. 

She is, like many other people, searching for jobs. At the same time, bills are still due. 

"I have rent to pay. For a matter of fact, it's due tomorrow. Do I have it? No. The rest of the bills run within the first two weeks of the month. Do I have it? No," Simmons said. 

It's a situation many are facing.

We brought your questions to Kelvin Collins with the Better Business Bureau. 

Collins says the number one thing to do is communicate with your landlord. 

"They want you to stay in the apartment. They don't want to find someone else to rent it to," Collins said. 

Also, Collins says you won't be evicted immediately if you can't make that payment. 

"There's a process they have to go through," Collins said. 

Also to help renters, the federal loan agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will offer multifamily property owners loan deferrals if they promise not to evict tenants.

"The federal government understands that everyone is having trouble right now. They've said people may be behind on their bills. They may have some problems, so we're not going to enforce evictions," Collins said. 

What if you're having trouble making your mortgage payment? Collins says it's important to contact your lender to see your options. 

"Typically, these federally backed mortgages... there's not going to be any fees and they'll work something out with you so you can stay in your home," Collins said. 

Collins says many lenders have already offered payment plans. Also, Fannie Mac and Freddie Mac are suspending foreclosures on THEIR mortgages for 60 days.

Simmons says she's working through this with some words of wisdom.  

"Feed your faith and starve your fear," Simmons said. 

To learn more about your rights as a tenant or a landlord, here's a link to the Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook.


This is a breakdown of Georgia's coronavirus-related deaths

Tracking COVID-19: Georgia Coronavirus Interactive map

FACTS NOT FEAR | At 13WMAZ, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the coronavirus. To see our full coverage, visit our site section here: www.13wmaz.com/Coronavirus.

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