A “For Rent” sign stands outside of an apartment building Thursday, March 26, 2020, on Fremont Avenue in Cheyenne. Some landlords have said they will work with renters who have been hurt financially by the current coronavirus pandemic, and many local financial institutions are doing the same. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – As the coronavirus pandemic has descended on southeast Wyoming, some local workers are left with reduced hours or no work at all.

To help residents in this time of need, a number of banks and landlords are working with their customers to make a bad situation more workable, whether that’s through reduced payments or deferring loan payments.

“Our community is where we make our living and do our business,” First State Bank of Cheyenne President Stig Hallingbye said. “We are here to help. We’re all in the same boat.”

Like a number of other local banks, First State Bank of Cheyenne has deferred loan payments for its clients for three months, meaning they can miss a payment with no penalty.

“We think the cashflow needs are especially dire right now for those in the restaurant business, the rental business, the nonprofit business, the insurance business. There’s all kinds of people who won’t have the clientele they had a month ago,” Hallingbye said. “We’re trying to get those customers through this.”

Financial institutions like ANB Bank, Blue Federal Credit Union and Wyoming Bank and Trust have stepped up in similar ways, listening to clients and adapting to their needs.

Blue Federal Credit Union Vice President of Public Relations Michele Bolkovatz said the company’s decision to help in any way they can – including waiving late fees and deferring payments for two months – was one that “came from the heart.”

“Nothing prepares you for this,” Bolkovatz said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to help.”

By putting a pause on loan payments, the local banks hope that will free up cashflow for residents so they can pay their power bills or their credit card bills.

“For businesses, it allows them to make choices for how to move forward in this very unique time,” ANB President Lori Schoene said.

Tom Bass, president of Wyoming Bank and Trust, said this situation shows how supportive the community is, even in dark times.

“It’s the American way – people are pitching in,” Bass said. “When tough times come around, people step up.”

Rental properties

Crown Realty owner Dianna Svitavsky said she understands that some tenants are facing hardships, either with work or with finding child care now that kids are home from school.

To make the situation easier on tenants, they are making adjustments, including waiving late fees and arranging payment schedules for those who have taken a financial hit. They’re deciding the best course of action on a case-by-case basis.

“It’s to assist people that have been impacted by this virus,” Svitavsky said. “It’s certainly not their fault, for obvious reasons.”

One problem that leaves some property management companies in a bind is that they don’t actually own the properties they manage. At the end of the day, for places like Perferred Management, the final decision comes down to the property owner.

Brenda Williams with Preferred Management said they are handling any requests on a case-by-case basis and consulting with the property owners to find a solution.

The same holds true for Patty Bennett Realty, though they are not currently making accommodations.

Kip Aaron said without the approval of the property owners, “We can’t really do it. We’re just the middle men.”

Luckily for Corey Rang with Peak Properties, none of his tenants are in such a bind that paying rent would be a point of concern. With a lot of tenants who are in the Air Force, Rang said the situation with coronavirus “hasn’t really affected us.”

However, Rang recognized that some landlords aren’t in the same position.

“If half my tenants couldn’t pay, it’d put me in a hell of a bind,” Rang said. “People have to remember the landlords also have payments to make.”

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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