ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - There is some good news for New Mexico’s federal workers affected by the shutdown as several companies have now stepped up with big help to avoid falling behind on bills.
Some utilities, banks and credit unions across the state are now offering zero-interest loans and payment plans for furloughed federal workers at no extra cost and more are expected to join in to help.
It comes as hundreds of companies customers are facing bills with no pay check.
“Really they're just looking for assistance,” said Anneliese Elrod, senior vice president of marketing for the New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union, one of the lenders that’s offering help.
NMEFCU says it’s now offering up to $6,000 in a zero-percent-interest loan to federal employees who are temporarily out of work.
“We've gotten a couple of dozen folks who have actually taken out the loan so far,” said Elrod.
The credit union says its expecting that hundreds more people will seek help soon with the pending closures of the Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories.
“We prepare for occasions like this so that we can all help our members and the community when they need us,” said Elrod.
Other banks and credit unions have created similar programs including Los Alamos National Bank, Kirtland, Sandia Labs and Sandia Area and U.S. New Mexico federal credit unions. Regional and national banks have also offered help, including Bank of the West, Wells Fargo, Capital One and Bank of America.
Utilities including PNM are also helping.
“We know that a lot of our customers are impacted,” said Wayne Frye, PNM director of customer relations. “We're willing to work with them on payment arrangements.”
PNM has started a payment-deferral program for federal workers in trouble.
“If we actually show up to a customer in that situation, and they can show us that we're affected by it, we won't turn off their power, and we'll work with them on payment arrangements as well,” said Frye.
The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority and CenturyLink are also offering similar programs.
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., has been working with many lenders and companies to help. She says it’s been surprisingly easy.
“Some folks were already working on things; other folks were happy to participate in a larger group effort,” said Lujan Grisham.
The congresswoman says she’s also spoken with several insurance companies that she expects to have some offer of help sometime soon.
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