ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque has partnered with local nonprofits to help community members deal with the financial impact of COVID-19. The project is aimed at connecting people to social services and other resources by referral.

Eduardo Esquivel of the New Mexico Dream Team, an immigrant rights organization, is heading up the project. They are providing “navigators” who are bilingual in English and Spanish to assist callers looking for immediate financial assistance and connect them to the resources they need. Those who are interested in utilizing the program can either call 311 or fill out an online form to connect them to someone who can assist them.

They’re also inviting organizations from around the city that have resources for Albuquerque residents to connect with the project and get added to their list. “We understand that it can be very daunting to have that list of all the things that are going wrong and try to find the things they need. This is much easier, they can just contact our navigators and let them know what areas they need and help them find those resources,” Esquivel said.

Navigators can connect callers to rent and mortgage payment assistance, eviction prevention, utility payment assistance, food stamps (SNAP), unemployment insurance payments, Medicaid or ACA health insurance (beWellNM), childcare and childcare assistance payments. This program is specifically for immediate or emergency help and not a long-term service. The navigators connect participants with resources, they do not directly disperse money to the participant.

The session will last approximately 30 minutes. Navigators can help prioritize financial concerns, identify immediate action steps, and make referrals to programs and services. During the call Navigators can help with prioritizing daily living expenses, maximizing income by sharing referrals that offer benefit eligibility services, emergency cash assistance, and emergency loans, and managing debt.

This program services the Albuquerque area, but Esquivel said there are some programs that run statewide. Those who fill out an online application can also specify what time is most convenient for a navigator to contact them. “We’re trying to make this process as easy and accessible as possible,” Esquivel said.

The Financial Navigators program officially launched in January. Their primary goal right now is getting the word out. They can serve participants in any language using telephonic interpretation. The Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, the NM Dream Team and the NM Coalition to End Homelessness are also partners in the project.