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Can’t pay your bills? Here are some resources for you:

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - Numerous people are left without a job as the novel coronavirus has forced businesses to shut down to avoid the spread.

More than 61,000 Hoosiers filed unemployment claims in just one week of March.

Allen County had 9,950 initial claims last week, which is a 179.4 percent increase compared to the week before.

“If we thought the first week’s numbers were high, it’s even more eye-popping this week,” said Rachel Blakeman, the director of Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Community Research Institute.

“The scope of the public-health closures and diminished consumer spending is coming into focus at this point. The scale is clearly unprecedented. We are also starting to see significant claims in counties that have more manufacturing presence like Adams, Elkhart, Noble and LaGrange counties. Again, we don’t have industry-specific information about the claimants, but the effects of sheltering in place must be widespread with these numbers. We can anticipate more first-time claims going forward as employers who had initially furloughed workers laid them off this week, such as Macy’s and Kohl’s.”

That's why local government, utility and banking offices held a news conference to explain some resources that are available to the public during this time.

City Utilities

Earlier this month, City Utilities suspended utility service disconnects for non-payment. 

In the field, during this crisis, City Utilities has suspended meter change-outs, including previously scheduled appointments, except in emergencies. 

It is important for customers who are not able to pay or pay their full amount to contact customer service about their situation and work out a payment plan.

Customers can use the kiosk located outside of Citizens Square and off of the parking lot at 200 East Berry St. to make payments or call customer service to discuss an account.

NIPSCO

NIPSCO recently announced that it has voluntarily suspended shutoffs for nonpayment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This suspension applies to residential, commercial and industrial customers and will remain in effect until further notice.

In addition, NIPSCO is offering its most flexible payment plans to customers who indicate either an impact or hardship as a result of COVID-19 and will suspend late payment charges until May 1. NIPSCO will continue to monitor current events and support our customers and communities. 

Meanwhile, NIPSCO continues to make the necessary adjustments to ensure the health and safety of its workforce in order to maintain reliable energy service for customers and the ability to respond to emergency events, should they occur.

For further assistance, please call customer care at 1-800-4-NIPSCO or visit NIPSCO.com.

In addition, the NiSource Charitable Foundation, the charitable foundation supported by NIPSCO’s parent company NiSource Inc., announced that it has committed $400,000 to the American Red Cross in Indiana as part of its overall $1 million donation to help provide COVID-19 relief support across the company’s seven-state service territory.

The dollars are intended to support the delivery of care and comfort to local communities in need as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Indiana Michigan Power

I&M does not anticipate any interruptions in our service related to the coronavirus.

I&M’s No. 1 focus is on the health and safety of our customers and employees as teams continue to work to keep the lights on 24/7.

Recognizing the need for Personal Protection Equipment in communities we serve, I&M is donating 10,000 masks and 10,000 individual nitrile gloves from our inventory to health-care workers and first responders throughout the areas we serve in Indiana and Michigan.

The mask is the much-needed N95 mask, and the gloves are nitrile gloves, made from a synthetic rubber.

Additionally, the American Electric Power Foundation is donating $1.5 million in emergency funds to support basic human needs and help address the hardships faced by customers and communities.

Of that, $240,000 will be distributed to appropriate non-profit agencies in the I&M service territory. Because we know that many of our customers are facing unusual financial hardships, we have temporarily suspended all service disconnections for non-payment.

All customers will ultimately be responsible for paying their bill, and we urge them to try to keep their accounts current.

If a customer is going to have trouble paying their bill, please contact us by phone at: 1-800-311-4634 or through Facebook or Twitter to discuss payment options.

Banking

STAR Financial Bank is working to provide short term loan relief options for retail customers if needed.

Additionally, in collaboration with the Small Business Administration, STAR is looking to facilitate several assistance programs to commercial and small business clients.

STAR drive-up video banking remains available at all locations from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Monday-Saturday, and STAR mobile and online banking are available 24/7 to all customers.

STAR lobbies continue to maintain “special designated hours” by appointment only that can be set up through a Customer Service line.

As a member of the FDIC, STAR is committed to keeping client funds secure and accessible.

You're encouraged to check with your own bank to see what services and help is available to you.

For residential customers served by the Allen County Regional Water and Sewer District, the Allen County Board of Commissioners is providing a grant to the district to offer residential ratepayers a one-time, 50% credit on an upcoming residential sewer bill.

Citizens Square will remain closed to the public through at least April 6.

Coronavirus resources

  • Click here for the latest CDC novel coronavirus resources and links.
  • Track the COVID-19 globally using this map tracker here.
  • You can view the latest Indiana COVID-19 numbers here.
  • Track Ohio's coronavirus numbers here.
  • Need to get tested? Click here to find a testing site near you.
  • Check out or COVID-19 vaccine resource page here.
  • You can catch up on the latest ABC21 coronavirus coverage here.
  • Sign up here for the latest local, state and national news regarding COVID-19.
  • Click here to sign up for ABC21 News and Weather Alerts

Kayla Crandall

Kayla Crandall is an Emmy award-winning journalist. She serves as the Social Media and Digital Content Manager at WPTA. Follow her on Twitter @KaylerJayne.

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