Red Bank-based OceanFirst Bank said Monday it is taking precautionary measures regarding the COVID-19 virus to protect customers, employees and communities by offering borrower relief programs for businesses, and for residential mortgages and consumer loans.
“As a community-based financial institution, we believe OceanFirst can and should extend a helping hand to our customers, employees and neighbors at this difficult time,” OceanFirst Chairman, President and Chief Executive Offiver Christopher Maher said in a statement. “Our experience during other periods of extreme hardship, such as Superstorm Sandy, is that these efforts are an important lifeline that help our customers, employees and neighbors – and our company – stay resilient and come back stronger.”
The bank said the measures will be re-evaluated as circumstances require.
For business borrowers, OceanFirst is offering to defer certain loan payments for up to 90 days for the most seriously impacted categories of companies. Current borrowers who wish to request relief should call their commercial loan relationship officer.
Public accommodation businesses – such as restaurants and caterers, and certain retail establishments – that are forced to close will be eligible for full deferral of loan payments (principal and interest) for 90 days, and immediate working capital facilities up to $200,000. Those businesses that are reducing services in response to the pandemic – such as capping capacity and transitioning to take-out only – will be eligible to make interest-only payments and defer principal payments for 90 days, and immediate working capital facilities up to $100,000.
Additional relief programs may be available borrowers on an individualized basis, depending on circumstances; all programs are to bank approval.
Existing OceanFirst residential mortgage and consumer loan customers may also qualify for relief, such as health care professionals or emergency responders. The program offers eligible customers deferral of principal and interest on residential mortgage or consumer loan payments for 90 days. Additional OceanFirst borrowers who are otherwise impacted by COVID-19 will be evaluated for participation in the program.
Businesses and consumers who wish to receive deferrals must contact the bank to determine eligibility; the borrower relief program is not automatic.
In its own operations, OceanFirst is expanding its social distancing practice with temporary modifications to temporarily eliminate lobby services at all branches, instead utilizing only drive-up service for most branches. A list of temporarily closed branches and alternate locations is available on the company’s website. Digital banking and call center operations will continue to assist customers remotely.
For its employees, effective immediately, the bank established a one-time paid-time-off bank of hours for use during the pandemic.
OceanFirst employees may be eligible for up to 80 hours of PTO to be used in the case of quarantine, isolation or family care needs related to coronavirus exposure, illness or other related issues, or a temporary lack of work.
The OceanFirst Foundation, a separate charitable entity which provides grants to nonprofit organizations that meet community needs in a defined service area, also announced establishing a $250,000 grant pool to support nonprofit organizations that have been directly impacted by COVID-19.
Additional information will be available on the foundation’s website beginning March 17.
Due to the disruption of many school schedules, the foundation also said it deferred its model classroom grant program, providing teachers with additional time to submit grant applications. The model classroom program provides grants to local schools that provide innovative solutions to learning.