Local banks offer relief to furloughed government workers

Two local banks are offering relief for furloughed federal workers who missed their first paychecks on Friday amid the ongoing partial government shutdown.

Happy State Bank Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Hickman announced that the bank is implementing a program to help government employees affected by the shutdown. Happy State Bank will be, offering deferred loan payments, waiving overdraft protection and late fees and offering up short-term financing options.

"It’s a normal payday and folks aren’t getting paid.

"I'm a banker. We help people buy homes, we help people start businesses, get cars, go on vacation, that's what we do.

“But those are not necessarily life or death. This is feeding your family, taking care of your family, you've got obligations you can't meet now that you told somebody you were going to. That's a whole new world and this time, it's not your fault.

"Look, it's not about politics or party affiliation. It's about our neighbors and friends and loved ones who are in a tight spot right now. We are more than happy to help," Hickman said.

Amarillo National Bank released a statement Friday that it will also be offering the following assistance to its customers affected by the government shutdown:

Mortgages: ANB will offer forbearances on mortgage payments for up to six months or until the government shutdown ends—whichever comes first. Any credit reporting will be suspended and all late fees will be waived during this time. Mortgage consumers with questions or phone calls may contact Mortgage Loan Servicing collectors at 806-378-8090.

Consumer Loans: All installment loans to customers affected by the shutdown will defer the next scheduled payment to the end of the note. If the shutdown continues, ANB will likely approve additional deferments. For help with your installment loan please contact 806-378-8220.

Amarillo National Bank is also waiving overdraft charges as well as fees for money orders or cashiers checks.

“This is how a community bank takes care of its community.

"We've been getting ready for this since the government started the shutdown last month. So we were prepared, we've seen it before, and we know our customers are going to pay us eventually."

"Today is the day government workers should be getting their paychecks and, unfortunately, it’s not happening. We understand the hardship this creates and we are committed to taking care of our customers.

"They aren't trying to miss a payment. If they miss a payment, and it gets reported to their credit report, it could hurt their credit. We are trying to prevent that. We are going to work with our customers, we are on their side, and we are going to stick with them as long as it takes," ANB President William Ware said.

Major banks across the U.S., including Bank of America, Citi and Wells Fargo, previously rolled out assistance programs for federal workers affected by the partial shutdown.

The government entered a partial shutdown on Dec. 22 amid an impasse between lawmakers and the White House over President Trump's demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding. Roughly 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed or forced to work without pay during the shutdown, which entered its 21st day on Friday.