Agencies running out of money to help people with utility bills

By Crystal Britt - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The A.C.'s just continue to buzz. That's not likely to change anytime soon unless you're like a number of people in the Heartland facing disconnection notices.

More people are having trouble keeping up-to-date on their electric bills.

The bigger problem now is the agencies that help don't have much help to give.

A number of organizations and charities have money set aside to help specifically with utility assistance.

Money tends to dwindle by this time of year, but this summer seemingly more than ever. It's leaving many people in need wondering what they'll do when the lights go out.

"I think I've been 30 places today," said Frank Boyd.

Boyd is desperate. He's about to have his power shut off.

"Can't get no help. I've been everywhere," said Boyd.

He's one of many looking for assistance in paying bills that have gotten out of hand.

"Just trying to get what we can, and hoping someone can help us. I know there's a lot of other families out there. We aren't the only ones," said Boyd.

Case Manager Tina Rodgers with the Salvation Army knows that all too well.

"We have seen more people this year than we've ever seen before," Rodgers.

Rodgers says the funding they have to help people with rent and utilities is usually sufficient, but this year it's not.

With a hot summer and continued job losses, the need is great.

The Salvation Army's received thousands of dollars in grants to help.

"But, we have used up almost that trying to keep people from being homeless," said Rodgers.

It's a similar story at the East Missouri Action Agency.

They have a waiting list that is 14 pages long of people looking to get help with power bills.

"We're tapped out," said Erin Gotto.

The funding pretty well ran out right after the Fourth of July.

"We have seen this summer so many new faces coming in to our agency. That's not just in Cape Girardeau County, that's agency wide," said Gotto.

She says they'll keep adding to the waiting list, but no guarantees.

"We're not expecting to receive any more money for our summer program, but anything can change," said Gotto.

It's something Frank Boyd's hoping for.

He says he got behind on his bills when he went to be with his dying mother in Michigan.

"A lot of things are going on, trying to play catch up. Don't nobody look for these things to happen. We just went. I need help. A lot of families need help," said Boyd.

Right now the biggest hope with these agencies that are running dry is donations from the public.

You can donate to the organization of your choice, and even specify how you want the money to be used.

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