Local agencies help pay bills to keep families cool

Local agencies help pay bills to keep families cool

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by AMY COWMAN / NewsChannel 36 Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @amywcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 3:14 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Thousands of local families struggle to stay cool in the summer as utility bills soar along with the temperatures. But there are resources in our area for families who need it.

But at Crisis Assistance Ministry they see some 200 families a day come for assistance and when the temperature soars like this week it gets worse.

"Nobody should be camping out in their own homes," said Michelle Hamilton with Crisis Assistance Ministry.  "When those electricity bills spike in the summer, when it gets hot there are many families that need help."
 
Fortunately they can provide it, both in emergency cases, those with utilities almost or already cut off and non emergency cases.
 
"We'll go through the whole situation with them—what their income and expenses are. We only ask for income for the last 30 days," noted Hamilton.
 
And it's not just Mecklenburg County.  In York County Carolina Community Actions Inc. serves low income, disabled and elderly in need.
 
"A lot of them are not repeat customers.  They're people coming to us for the first time," said Diane Wells with Carolina Community Actions Inc.
 
They assess a family's needs.
 
"It goes up to $500, so you may be awarded.  The average is $350.  Once you receive that award it will be credited to your account," said Wells.
 
So for many it could cover several months of their utility bill.
 
"We also partner with Duke Energy in our area and Duke Energy also provides funds to help us provide fans," said Wells.
 
At Crisis Ministry they also help with rent and clothes in their free store, and they say most importantly they want people to take advantage of the funds they have to help.
 
"We want for people not to wait until they're disconnected.  There's help available here.  They just have to come and bring some proof of that emergency, bring their utility bill, bring their ID and social security numbers and there is help available," added Hamilton.
 
For more information on Crisis Assistance Ministry you can log onto www.crisisassistance.org.  For more information on Carolina Community Actions Inc., go to www.carolinacommunityactions.org.

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