Can't pay your bills today? Here's what you can do

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Nationally people are waking up this morning wondering how they are going to keep a roof over their head.

Millions have lost their jobs, and the first of the month creates new fears.

Since many of you are asking, we are answering some of your questions

I can't make my payment, what is the current Texas policy?

The supreme court of Texas passed an emergency order suspending all evictions until April 19. That means you can't get kicked out of your home and no eviction court cases will be heard until then.

If you can't pay your rent or mortgage what should you do?

Contact your landlord or lender right away. There is nothing legally that requires lenders or landlords to offer relief because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but most companies are prepared to help. Additionally, keep documentation like a letter from your employer to demonstrate your income was disrupted by the current situation.

I want to use my stimulus check to pay my rent or mortgage payment, how will the IRS know where to send it?

The vast majority of people do not need to take any action to get their stimulus check. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible using your 2019 or 2018 tax return information.

What can I do right now to help my financial situation?

Financial advisor Chris Hogan says cut any unnecessary spending.

"We're getting rid of all the unnecessary. So that might mean deleting the streaming service, that might mean canceling the gym membership and making what other changes you need to, getting rid of cable," Hogan said. "We have to have this mindset, this is not something that's going to fix itself quickly. We do know we're going to rebound. We are going to come back from this, but no one has a mystery time clock, so we have to be smart."

I want to use my stimulus check to pay my rent, how can I get it quickly?

The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible using your 2019 or 2018 tax return information. If you did not use direct deposit when filing your taxes, be on the lookout in the coming weeks. The treasury plans to develop a web based portal to add your banking information for the IRS online so you can receive your payment immediately instead of through the mail.

Is now a good time to refinance your home?

"Rates right now are as low as they've been in a very long time. So if you've been in a mortgage for four years or more, this would be something you want to take a look at refinancing," Hogan recommended. "I suggest people get a 15 year fixed rate mortgage. Contact your existing lender, have them work up a lending estimate for you on what refinancing would look like. But if you can improve your rate by 1% or more, it is something you want to take a look at."

What is the federal government doing about sick leave if I have to take time off because of the coronavirus?

Starting Wednesday, you can be paid two weeks of sick leave if you are ill from coronavirus, under quarantine or taking care of children. The catch is, this is only available to companies with less than 500 employees. Currently, about 40 percent of Texas workers don't receive sick leave.

Renters who are struggling to make their payments are also encouraged to look into rental assistance programs. To find out what's available, call 211 and choose option 1.

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