Washington Governor Proclamations issued by State Governor Jay Inslee were designed to provide COVID 19 financial assistance to those residing within Washington borders during the ongoing global pandemic. On December 8, 2020, the Washington Governor's Office announced through their Medium account that the current COVID 19 financial assistance Washington Governor Proclamations shall remain in place until January 4, 2021.
Update: Some of the Washington Governor Proclamations have been extended to January 19, 2021. In order to ensure accurate information, it is best for you to visit the pages below to determine if the Proclamation is still active.
In this blog, the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers, will explain the three main Washington Governor Proclamations issued and how they may benefit you if you are in Washington and in need of COVID 19 financial assistance.
COVID 19 Financial Assistance #1 – Bank Account Garnishments Suspended
As a method of COVID 19 financial assistance, Proclamation 20-49.10 suspends bank account garnishments. Creditors can garnish or levy a bank account to gain access to some or all of the money that they are owed. To help those residing in Washington during the pandemic, this Washington Governor Proclamation continues to suspend the ability to garnish bank accounts. Governor Inslee's Proclamation states that this is necessary to “prevent or reduce unnecessary economic hardship and related life, health, and safety risks to those members of our workforce impacted by layoffs and substantially reduced work hours or Pandemic…”
Update: According to an email sent by the King County Clerk's Office on December 11, 2020, writs of garnishment will not be issued unless it is stated that the funds being garnished are not unemployment funds or CARES Act (stimulus payments) issued at the state or federal level.
Violators of this Proclamation may face criminal penalties.
Generally, bank garnishments or wage garnishments can be stopped by filing for or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Once bankruptcy is filed by the debtor, an automatic stay is issued by the bankruptcy court. An automatic stay prevents any creditor, debt collector, or collection agency from engaging in any type of collections action, including a bank garnishment or wage garnishment.
To learn more about whether bankruptcy may be right for you, schedule a free consultation with the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers!
COVID 19 Financial Assistance #2 – Washington State Evictions
Proclamation 20-19 continues to provide assistance for most anyone residing in Washington State as a tenant of some kind. It includes houses, apartments, mobile homes, Airbnbs, “transient housing,” hotels, motels, long-term care facilities, RVs, and camping areas. It does not matter if it involves a documented lease. The main purpose of this Proclamation is to prevent homelessness during the global pandemic.
The Proclamation also makes another important statement as well. It is not a blanket statement for anyone who is a tenant to simply not pay their rent. Rather, Governor Inslee does state within the Proclamation that anyone who has the ability to pay their rent should continue to do so. It states that landlords, property managers, and tenants should work together in a spirit of good faith to come to an agreement and that tenants to pay what they can, when they can while working on a repayment solution on arrearages.
King County has an Eviction Resolution Program (ERP). The goal of the program is to assist landlords and tenants in attempting to work together to keep tenants in their home during the pandemic. The landlord and tenant work together with someone trained in dispute resolution to consider both state and local rental assistance options as well as discuss potential payment plans to avoid the eviction process. To learn more about the Eviction Resolution Program, visit its official website.
COVID 19 Financial Assistance #3 – Washington Utilities (UTC)
Proclamation 20-23 continues to keep utilities on for those living in Washington. With this Proclamation, Governor Inslee requested that all utility companies take “reasonable actions” to work with the public to prevent disconnections for nonpayment, waive late payment fees, and create payment plans for outstanding balances.
The Proclamation also goes on to prohibit all energy, telecommunications, and water providers within the state from:
- Disconnecting residential customers from energy, telecommunications, or water service for nonpayment on an active account, unless the customer requests the disconnection;
- Refuse to reconnect a service that was disconnected because of nonpayment;
- Charge a late fee or a fee for reconnection of energy, telecommunication, or water service; and
- Disconnect service to a residential customer who contacted the utility company to ask for help from the company's COVID 19 Customer Support Programs.
Get Help with Your Financial Future
If you are spending more time thinking about your financial future after COVID 19, you are not alone. With lay-offs, unexpected medical bills, smaller or no paychecks, and what seems like a growing pile of bills, it can often seem like there's no way out from the financial mess caused by a global pandemic. The State of Washington has taken some action to help limit the financial strain, and you have other options that you may want to think about now or in the future.
One option could be bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is not always the best option, but Chapter 7 can be the right option for many. To learn more about Chapter 7 bankruptcy and whether it might be right for you, schedule a free consultation with the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers.
Disclaimer: This publication is not legal advice. It is intended as legal information only. For legal advice specific to your needs, contact the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers, PS at 800-972-0411.
Posted December 2020