With things slipping into semi-dystopian reality local governments are learning to serve the public in new ways. Here are some links, updates and the ‘what’s up’ from our local governments.
Bernalillo County and the city of Albuquerque are on the same page when it comes to following the directives set by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for the State of New Mexico to try to stop the spread of the virus. These include physical distancing, stay at home orders and the shut-down of non-essential businesses.
Governor Lujan Grisham’s team set up a webpage to let people know what type of help is available through the state agencies such as how to get unemployment and health care. There is a lot of information here to help guide New Mexicans through the foreseeable future. Here is the link - https:/
Mayor Tim Keller and County Manager Julie Morgas Baca along their teams have closed city and county buildings to the public. But doing business with the clerks, planning and permitting folks, and payment to the local water authority still can be done online or regular mail. City buses are running but on an abbreviated schedule. Senior citizen essential services are continuing. The grocery store plastic bag ban is off for the foreseeable future as reusable bags might be germ bombs.
Bernalillo County links to assistance can be found here – https:/
City of Albuquerque’s pile of helpful information is here - https://www.cabq.gov .
The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions has waived the work search requirements for workers who have had their hours reduced or have lost their jobs completely because of COVID-19. Help is also available for those who have had to self-isolate or have immediate family who is isolated. Be patient when you call, because since the pandemic broke out, more than 586,000 calls have rung into the unemployment folks. On the flip side there are jobs and hiring being advertised in the supply chain businesses, medical services and other businesses deemed essential. For more information check out www.jobs.state.nm.us .
There will be $500,000 in grant money available for Albuquerque businesses impacted by the COVID-19 virus. The Micro-Business Relief Program will provide working capital grants of up to $5,000 for qualifying businesses. The State of New Mexico has several programs to try to help our small businesses stay afloat. One big chunk is the state’s access to Small Business Disaster Loan Assistance money to provide up to $2 million in relief to small businesses and non-profits in all 33 counties. There are many other programs available on the state, county and city COVID-19 webpages.
The New Mexico Supreme Court ordered a temporary moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Tenants must participate in a hearing via phone and provide evidence of the inability to pay the rent.
The Federal Housing Finance Authority Agency will allow forbearance for an Enterprise-backed single mortgage payment for up to 12 months due to coronavirus hardship. If you have received an eviction notice you can call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-551-0518 for more information.
Local gas, electric and water utilities will not be cutting folks off for non-payment at least through April 6. All major internet providers have signed onto the Federal Communications Commission’s Keep America Connected Pledge to not terminate any residential or small business customers who can’t keep up due to the pandemic and to open wi-fi hotspots to any American who needs them. If your internet or cell phone service has been cut off call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-551-0518.
Boom just like that school went home. For those parents adjusting to being teachers, the State Department of Education is posting resources daily to keep the state’s nearly half million students learning. Check it out here: https:/
Albuquerque Public Schools is trying to stay on top of the changes necessary to keep our students on track. This is not a small task as this is the largest school district in the state with more than 86,000 students. Check out the APS webpage at https://www.aps.edu
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center has opened up its Indigenous Wisdom, Pueblo Based Educational Curriculum to be downloaded for free at - https:/
Central New Mexico Community College students who have been booted as well can find information here - https://www.cnm.edu
University of New Mexico students had to abandon campus as COVID 19 threatened to spread. There is vital information for UNM students at - https:/
As we move forward collectively from our abodes we need to keep in mind that all experts say that we will get through this. There is a beginning, middle and end to any pandemic. The balancing acts required by democracies in all times, between individual rights and the public good, are manageable.
We must weigh and consider data and information molded into sensible policy choices within each locale and business and neighborhood, with built-in flexibility to adapt and evolve. Things work better from the ground up, including practical solutions to problems from the need for physical distancing to deciding what neighborhood businesses are essential. Now is the time to tap into local neighborhood associations, send e-mails to local leaders with constructive ideas, not ugly criticism, as we are all learning as we move forward.