Monthly Archives: April 2020

COVID-19 Virtual Community Conversation

April 27th, 2020|

Dear friends and neighbors,

Constituents from across the 48th Legislative District have asked us many questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. We hear your concerns and are actively seeking creative ways to help more people in more ways.

To help answer some of these, please join us on Tuesday, April 28 at 5 pm for a Virtual Community Conversation on Facebook Live. Special guests from the Small Business Administration will join us.

Please submit questions during the live event in the comment section, or in advance at: patty.kuderer@leg.wa.govVandana.Slatter@leg.wa.gov or Amy.Walen@leg.wa.gov

RSVP on Facebook

48th Legislative District Virtual Town Hall Event

A video archive will be available on the Senate Democrats’ Facebook and YouTube pages for people unable to attend the event live.

Watch out for COVID-19 scams

April 21st, 2020|

Friends,

I hope this message finds you and your family in good health.

The latest data from the Washington State Department of Health suggests we’re at a plateau with the number of infections. While this is good news as the trend line of new cases is not drastically increasing, it’s also not decreasing.

In other words, our social distancing efforts are slowing the spread, but we’re not out of the woods yet. If we end restrictive measures too soon, another wave of cases could prolong the situation even further. What we are doing is working, and we need everyone to keep up the good work, be consistent, and stay home. It’s saving lives.

New modeling from the University of Washington shows we *may* be able to begin to ease up on some restrictions next month. This is a big “may,” however, as this is only one model. We’ll need to see similar findings in several more models before we can move forward safely with a reopen plan.

When the governor does start to lift restrictions on the economy and social activities, we need to be prepared to adjust gradually. This won’t be like switching on a light. It’ll be more like a dial that can be carefully adjusted up or down based on what the science and data tell us.

Leaders in the Senate and House are working with the governor, trade organizations, nonprofits, and other community groups on the best ways to safely reopen the economy. Stay tuned for more information on those efforts.

In the meantime, here are additional resources and other helpful information to help you and your family during these difficult times.


Avoiding Scams

FTC Avoid Scams

Unfortunately, we live in a world with bad actors who try to take advantage of other people, especially those who are more vulnerable. Scammers will be out there as federal stimulus checks start arriving in the mail.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends five tips to avoid becoming a scamming victim:

  • Ignore offers for vaccinations and home test kits.
  • Hang up on robocalls.
  • Watch out for phishing emails and text messages.
  • Research before you donate.
  • Stay in the know by visiting ftc.gov/coronavirus for the latest information on scams.

More information on how to avoid scams can be found on the FTC website here. Complaints about suspected scams can be filed with the FTC here and the state Attorney General here.


Price Gouging

Price gouging during a public health crisis is illegal. If you suspect a case of price gouging, you can file a complaint with the Washington State Attorney General’s office. They have setup an easy, three-step “See It, Snap It, Send It” process to file complaints.

WA AG: Price Gouging

 


Evictions

Last month, Governor Inslee issued a moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent. He recently renewed and expanded this moratorium, which will be in effect until June 4. So far, the Washington Attorney General’s office has received more than 650 complaints of landlords possibly violating the governor’s orders.

Washingtonians concerned about violations of the proclamation can file a complaint here.


Stimulus checks

Stimulus checks from the federal CARES Act started going out to people last week. However, certain taxpayers may need to provide additional information to the IRS before a payment can be sent.

Those who didn’t file taxes in 2018 or 2019, or who earn less than $12,000 annually, will need to submit additional information and request their stimulus check from the IRS.

If this situation applies to you or someone you know, you can visit this webpage on the IRS website for more information on how to apply for your stimulus check.


Unemployment benefits

Over the weekend, the Washington State Employment Security Department updated their systems to process the expanded unemployment benefits now in place from the federal CARES Act. If your job has been impacted by COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Make sure you have all your information readily available before you begin the application process. This will speed up the application process and delivery of your benefits. Keep in mind, even if there are some initial delays in getting your claim approved, your benefit will be applied retroactively to your qualification date. You will receive your full benefits if you qualify.

ESD is processing an extremely high volume of claims right now, so the application process may be slower than normal. You may experience fewer delays by submitting your application during the evening hours or on a weekend.

You can sign up for ESD’s action alerts to receive the most recent information possible about these benefits, view their Frequently Asked Questions for Workers and for Businesses and use their checklist before applying for benefits.


Reducing Stigma

Misinformation can spread quickly in the internet age. Misinformation circulating during a pandemic can make the situation worse and possibly lead to more deaths.

Anyone can get COVID-19, and anyone can spread it. Viruses don’t discriminate. Neither should we.

Spread the Facts:

  • Rely on, and share, trusted sources of information.
  • Speak up if you hear, see, or read stigmatizing or harassing comments or misinformation.
  • Show compassion and support for individuals and communities more closely impacted.
  • Avoid stigmatizing people who are in quarantine. They are making the right choice for their communities.
  • Do not make assumptions about someone’s health status based on their ethnicity, race or national origin.
  • Spread the facts – promote positive messages about ALL our communities.
  • Report discrimination.

Let’s all do our part to reduce stigma and defeat the coronavirus.

You can report suspected cases of discrimination through the Washington State Human Rights Commission or the King County Office of Civil Rights.


Ways you can help

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Even with our great progress slowing the spread of the virus, Washington state is still in need of PPE to support personnel on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. If you have the ability to purchase, donate, or manufacture PPE, please visit this website.

Volunteer: The Washington State Department of Health is seeking volunteers to help with the health care response to the virus. You can learn more about that here. Additional volunteer opportunities are available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Donate blood: The COVID-19 outbreak has put a strain on regular blood donation channels as traditional blood drive activities are suspended during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Donating blood is still allowed as strict sanitary measures are applied to keep people safe. If you are able, please consider donating blood. More information on donating blood can be found on King County’s website here.

Donate food: The economic slowdown has increased demand on Washington’s food banks. A recent estimate stated 1.6 million Washingtonians will rely on food bank services this week – twice the normal number. Efforts are underway by Gov. Inslee and community organizations to ensure there’s an adequate supply in our food banks to meet demand. You can read more about Gov. Inslee’s recent efforts to boost food bank supplies here.


This outbreak is rapidly evolving. I’ll send additional updates as I learn more. As always, contact my office anytime if you need help connecting with community assistance services.

Wash your hands, stay at least six feet away from other people, and please stay home.

 

 

 

Patty Kuderer
State Senator
48th Legislative District

COVID-19 Resources: Rent, Mortgage, Unemployment

April 10th, 2020|

Friends:

Thank you for doing your part and practicing strong social distancing during this public health crisis. We’re starting to see evidence showing our efforts to stay home are helping to flatten the curve. Our state’s strong response to the pandemic has helped slow the spread of the virus.

While this is good news, we are not in the clear yet. Resuming our normal social behavior too quickly could easily lead to another wave of infections.

I know isolation is difficult for everyone and we’re all eager to get back to our regular lives. But please continue to follow the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order from Gov. Inslee and our state’s public health experts. We must stay the course and see this through to the end to avoid more illness and deaths from another spike in infections.

General resources

A new website is up and running with helpful information on a wide variety of topics like housing, childcare, small business assistance, unemployment benefits, and much more. If you have questions or need assistance, coronavirus.wa.gov is a good place to start first. The site is updated several times a day as new information and resources become available.

WA 211 is another excellent resource. You can visit their website here, or dial 211 or 1-877-211-9274 to connect with their staff.

Protections for renters and landlords

Last month, Governor Inslee issued a moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent. This moratorium is tentatively scheduled to end a week from today. However, Rep. Nicole Macri and I are working directly with the governor’s office to not only extend the moratorium, but we’re also asking he expand it to provide additional protections for tenants.

We’re asking the governor to put a moratorium on all fees, not just late fees. And to extend the moratorium protections to owners of manufactured homes.

We also asked the governor to consider enacting additional protections for landlords. They have ongoing and reoccurring costs associated with their properties and may need assistance to get through this public health crisis. Landlords of properties near college campuses, for example, may have unrented units for months while the colleges remain closed. Those costs will continue to build, but no income is being generated during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy period.

Emergency rental assistance will help renters stay in their homes and landlords pay for their expenses. But to be clear, while we are advocating for these kinds of assistance programs, they won’t cover 100% of costs and expenses that many are incurring. Assistance programs will help keep many people afloat, but it’s not possible to completely supplant lost income and revenue through government support. This will require shared sacrifice from everyone, but we can do this.

You can read the full letter of requests to Governor Inslee here.

Forcing people and families out on the streets during a public health crisis will only make the situation worse for everybody. As this recent opinion piece from the Washington Post lays out, temporary eviction bans won’t be enough to stop a wave of evictions that are likely coming.

Suspected violations of the governor’s orders regarding evictions can be reported here.

The King County Housing Authority is an excellent resource for housing assistance, although keep in mind they are operating with a limited staff during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. The Department of Social and Health Services also has services to help with housing and utilities.

Assistance for homeowners

The federal CARES Act recently passed by Congress placed a foreclosure moratorium on homes with federally-backed mortgages. Your lender or loan servicer may not foreclose on you for 60 days after March 18, 2020. Also included is a right to forbearance for up to 180 days for homeowners facing financial constraints due to the coronavirus.

Lenders will work with you to pause or reduce your monthly payments, although this will not reduce the total amount of your loan. You will still need to repay any missed or reduced payments in the future.

Additional protections are in place for Fannie Mae (1-800-232-6643) and Freddie Mac (1-800-373-3343) mortgages. And the Federal Housing Finance Agency has established a dedicated webpage with relevant updates and resources.

Homeowners in Washington can call the Washington Homeownership Resource Center Hotline at 1-877-894-HOME (4663) for help understanding their options and to connect with a housing counselor or legal aid attorney.

This Washington State Department of Financial Institutions webpage provides a list of financial resources for Washington consumers impacted by the coronavirus.

Unemployment and paid family leave benefits

If you lost your job due to the coronavirus outbreak, you’ll likely qualify to receive unemployment benefits. I encourage you to visit esd.wa.gov to learn more about benefits. However, please keep in mind the high volume of requests is causing delays in the process.

Nationally, nearly 17 million people are seeking unemployment assistance. Washington’s Employment Security Department has been receiving record numbers of new claims for unemployment insurance. At the same time, they are experiencing extremely high numbers of phone calls and emails.

You may have questions about the recent federal stimulus package and the enhancements to eligibility and available benefits for individuals. To address your questions and to find out more information, please do not call their toll-free numbers first. Instead, please visit their website at esd.wa.gov.

You can sign up for ESD’s action alerts to receive the most recent information possible about these benefits, view their Frequently Asked Questions for Workers and for Businesses and use their checklist before applying for benefits.

You may also be eligible for paid family medical leave, a new benefit that came online for workers this year. More information about paid family medical leave can be found here.

Stay tuned for additional details as new resources become available to help people and families through this crisis. As always, contact my office anytime if you need help connecting with community assistance services.

Wash your hands, stay at least six feet away from other people, and please stay home.

 

 

 

 

 

Patty Kuderer
State Senator
48th Legislative District